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

Rome, Palaces and Villas of

The Miserere

By Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896)

NOT of the earth that music! all things fade;

Vanish the pictured walls! and, one by one,

The starry candles silently expire!

And now, O Jesus! round that silent cross

A moment’s pause, a hush as of the grave.

Now rises slow a silver mist of sound,

And all the heavens break out in drops of grief;

A rain of sobbing sweetness, swelling, dying,

Voice into voice inweaving with sweet throbs,

And fluttering pulses of impassioned moan,—

Veiled voices, in whose wailing there is awe,

And mysteries of love and agony,

A yearning anguish of celestial souls,

A shiver as of wings trembling the air,

As if God’s shining doves, his spotless birds,

Wailed with a nightingale’s heart-break of grief,

In this their starless night, when for our sins

Their sun, their life, their love, hangs darkly there,

Like a slain lamb, bleeding his life away!