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


The Campo Santo at Pisa

By Aubrey Thomas de Vere (1814–1902)

THERE needs not choral song, nor organ’s pealing:—

This mighty cloister of itself inspires

Thoughts breathed like hymns from spiritual choirs;

While shades and lights, in soft succession stealing,

Along it creep, now veiling, now revealing

Strange forms, here traced by painting’s earliest sires,—

Angels with palms; and purgatorial fires;

And saints caught up, and demons round them reeling.

Love, long remembering those she could not save,

Here hung the cradle of Italian Art:

Faith rocked it: like a hermit child went forth

From hence that power which beautified the earth.

She perished when the world had lured her heart

From her true friends, Religion and the Grave.

LAMENT not thou: the cold winds, as they pass

Through the ribbed fretwork with low sigh or moan,

Lament enough: let them lament alone,

Counting the sear leaves of the innumerous grass

With thin, soft sound like one prolonged,—alas!

Spread thou thy hands on sun-touched vase, or stone

That yet retains the warmth of sunshine gone,

And drink warm solace from the ponderous mass.

Gaze not around thee. Monumental marbles,

Time-clouded frescos, mouldering year by year,

Dim cells in which all day the night-bird warbles,—

These things are sorrowful elsewhere, not here:

A mightier Power than Art’s hath here her shrine:

Stranger! thou tread’st the soil of Palestine!