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


The Falls of Terni

By John Edmund Reade (1800–1870)

(From Italy)

A GORGE cleft through the mountain’s mighty heart:

Volcanic throes within her breast we hear,

Or pent-up winds, or earth’s spasmodic start?

No, ’t is the cleaving Terni’s wild career;

On, where yon clouds like shrouded giants rear

Their shapes in azure distance, while the swell

Of the strife gathering on the startled ear

The sounds of their eternal conflict tell,

Loud as o’er distant storms the thunder’s sinking knell.

Lo! hurrying on enwreathed in mist and foam,

His robes caught upward in delirious flight,

Velino rushes from his mountain home,

In beauty and in terror, from yon height

One desperate bound hath hurled him, flashing might

And wrath and madness from his skyey throne

Shot like a flying minister of light;

High o’er the whirlpool wreck his crown is shown

Forever hovering there in glittering state alone;

A glory haloing his ruin; there

Tortured and writhing in the abyss he lies,

Yet on his shivered forehead he doth bear

The flickering hues and light of his lost skies;

Behold in eddying wreaths how o’er him rise

The smoke, the reek, the steam of his wild breath,

And the gleam flashed forth from his arrowy eyes,

How lend they darkening ’gainst the mountain heath,

A horror to the scene, that war of life and death!