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

Rome, Hills of

The Capitol: Tasso’s Coronation

By Felicia Hemans (1793–1835)

  • Tasso died at Rome on the day before that appointed for his coronation in the Capitol.

  • A TRUMPET’S note is in the sky,—in the glorious Roman sky,

    Whose dome hath rung, so many an age, to the voice of victory;

    There is crowding to the Capitol the imperial streets along,

    For again a conqueror must be crowned,—a kingly child of song:

    Yet his chariot lingers,

    Yet around his home

    Broods a shadow silently,

    Midst the joy of Rome.

    A thousand, thousand laurel-boughs are waving wide and far,

    To shed out their triumphal gleams around his rolling car;

    A thousand haunts of olden gods have given their wealth of flowers,

    To scatter o’er his path of fame bright hues in gemlike showers.

    Peace! Within his chamber

    Low the mighty lies,—

    With a cloud of dreams on his noble brow,

    And a wandering in his eyes.

    Sing, sing for him, the lord of song,—for him, whose rushing strain

    In mastery o’er the spirit sweeps, like a strong wind o’er the main!

    Whose voice lives deep in burning hearts, forever there to dwell,

    As full-toned oracles are shrined in a temple’s holiest cell.

    Yes! for him, the victor,

    Sing,—but low, sing low!

    A soft, sad miserere chant

    For a soul about to go!

    The sun, the sun of Italy is pouring o’er his way,

    Where the old three hundred triumphs moved, a flood of golden day;

    Streaming through every haughty arch of the Cæsars’ past renown,—

    Bring forth, in that exulting light, the conqueror for his crown!

    Shut the proud, bright sunshine

    From the fading sight!

    There needs no ray by the bed of death,

    Save the holy taper’s light.

    The wreath is twined, the way is strewn, the lordly train are met,

    The streets are hung with coronals,—why stays the minstrel yet?

    Shout! as an army shouts in joy around a royal chief,—

    Bring forth the bard of chivalry, the bard of love and grief!

    Silence! forth we bring him,

    In his last array;

    From love and grief the freed, the flown,—

    Way for the bier!—make way!