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

Spezzia, the Gulf

The Feluca

By Samuel Rogers (1763–1855)

(From Italy)

DAY glimmered; and beyond the precipice

(Which my mule followed as in love with fear,

Or as in scorn, yet more and more inclining

To tempt the danger where it menaced most)

A sea of vapor rolled. Methought we went

Along the utmost edge of this, our world,

And the next step had hurled us headlong down

Into the wild and infinite abyss;

But soon the surges fled, and we descried

Nor dimly, though the lark was silent yet,

Thy gulf, La Spezzia. Ere the morning-gun,

Ere the first day-streak, we alighted there;

And not a breath, a murmur! Every sail

Slept in the offing. Yet along the shore

Great was the stir; as at the noontide hour,

None unemployed. Where from its native rock

A streamlet, clear and full, ran to the sea,

The maidens knelt and sung as they were wont,

Washing their garments. Where it met the tide,

Sparkling and lost, an ancient pinnace lay

Keel upward, and the fagot blazed, the tar

Fumed from the caldron; while, beyond the fort,

Whither I wandered, step by step led on,

The fishers dragged their net, the fish within

At every heave fluttering and full of life,

At every heave striking their silver fins

’Gainst the dark meshes.


At length the day departed, and the moon

Rose like another sun, illumining

Waters and woods and cloud-capt promontories,

Glades for a hermit’s cell, a lady’s bower,

Scenes of Elysium, such as night alone

Reveals below, nor often,—scenes that fled

As at the waving of a wizard’s wand,

And left behind them, as their parting gift,

A thousand nameless odors. All was still;

And now the nightingale her song poured forth

In such a torrent of heartfelt delight,

So fast it flowed, her tongue so voluble,

As if she thought her hearers would be gone

Ere half was told. ’T was where in the northwest,

Still unassailed and unassailable,

Thy pharos, Genoa, first displayed itself,

Burning in stillness on its craggy seat;

That guiding star so oft the only one,

When those now glowing in the azure vault

Are dark and silent. ’T was where o’er the sea

(For we were now within a cable’s length)

Delicious gardens hung; green galleries,

And marble terraces in many a flight,

And fairy arches flung from cliff to cliff,

Wildering, enchanting; and, above them all,

A palace, such as somewhere in the East,

In Zenastan or Araby the blest,

Among its golden groves and fruits of gold,

And fountains scattering rainbows in the sky,

Rose, when Aladdin rubbed the wondrous lamp,—

Such, if not fairer; and when we shot by,

A scene of revelry, in long array

As with the radiance of the setting sun,

The windows blazing. But we now approached

A city far-renowned; and wonder ceased.