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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Portugal: Lisbon (Lisboa)

The Earthquake of Lisbon, 1755

By Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)

(From Agnes)

AT length they see the waters gleam

Amid the fragrant bowers

Where Lisbon mirrors in the stream

Her belt of ancient towers.

Red is the orange on its bough,

To-morrow’s sun shall fling

O’er Cintra’s hazel-shaded brow

The flush of April’s wing.

The streets are loud with noisy mirth,

They dance on every green;

The morning’s dial marks the birth

Of proud Braganza’s queen.

At eve beneath their pictured dome

The gilded courtiers throng;

The broad moidores have cheated Rome

Of all her lords of song.

Ah! Lisbon dreams not of the day,

Pleased with her painted scenes,

When all her towers shall slide away

As now these canvas screens!

The spring has passed, the summer fled,

And yet they linger still,

Though autumn’s rustling leaves have spread

The flank of Cintra’s hill.


Three hours the first November dawn

Has climbed with feeble ray

Through mists like heavy curtains drawn

Before the darkened day.

How still the muffled echoes sleep!

Hark! hark! a hollow sound,—

A noise like chariots rumbling deep

Beneath the solid ground.

The channel lifts, the water slides

And bares its bar of sand,

Anon a mountain billow strides

And crashes o’er the land.

The turrets lean, the steeples reel

Like masts on ocean’s swell,

And clash a long discordant peal,

The death-doomed city’s knell.

The pavement bursts, the earth upheaves

Beneath the staggering town!

The turrets crack, the castle cleaves,

The spires come rushing down.

Around, the lurid mountains glow

With strange unearthly gleams;

While black abysses gape below,

Then close in jagged seams.

The earth has folded like a wave,

And thrice a thousand score,

Clasped, shroudless in their closing grave,

The sun shall see no more!