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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.

Apennines, The

The Ascent of the Apennines

By Sir Aubrey de Vere (1788–1846)

THE PLAINS recede; the olives dwindle:

The ilex and chestnut are left behind:

The skirts of the billowy pinewoods kindle

In the evening lights and the wind.

Not here we sigh for the Alpine glory

Of peak primeval and death-pale snow:

Not here for the cold green, and glacier hoary,

Or the blue caves that yawn below.

The landscape here is mature and mellow;

Fruit-like, not flower-like;—long hills embrowned;

Gradations of violet purple and yellow

From flushed stream to ridge church-crowned:

’T is a region of mystery, hushed and sainted:

As still as the dreams of those artists old

When the thoughts of Dante his Giotto painted:—

The summit is reached! Behold!

Like a sky condensed lies the lake far down;

It curves like the orbit of some fair planet!

A fire-wreath falls on the cliffs that frown

Above it,—dark walls of granite!

Thick-set, like an almond tree newly budded,

The hillsides with homesteads and hamlets glow:

With convent towers are the red rocks studded,

With villages zoned below.

Down drops by the island’s woody shores

The bannered barge with its rhythmic oars.