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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 Cœlian Hill

By Bessie Rayner Parkes (1829–1925)

OF all the seven which Rome doth boast,

(Fair hills and nobly crowned!)

I love the Cœlian Hill the most,

And think it holy ground.

’T was here the deacon Laurence died,

And here was Gregory’s cell;

The heart by honors sorely tried

Remembered it right well;—

And as his pious envoys bore

The British cross on high,

He, like a sailor turned from shore,

Looked backward with a sigh,

And though he held within his hand

The Church from east to west,

He thought of all the Christian land

This Cœlian Hill the best.

I cannot tell, I know not why,

But Rome from hence doth wear

Peculiar brightness in the sky

And beauty in the air.

A dreamy light is in the trees,

The winding walks are still,

And quietly the perfumed breeze

Creeps o’er the Cœlian Hill.

As tranquil convents faintly chime

The passing hours of prayer,

They give the only hints that time

Has marked its progress there.

The martyr’s home, the saint’s retreat,

Have filled the place with rest,

The centuries with silent feet

Have touched its leafy crest;

And Gregory, rising from his sleep,

Himself would scarcely know

That past of his was buried deep

A thousand years ago!