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


The Old Man of Verona

By Claudian (c. 370–c. 404)

Translated by C. A. Elton

BLEST is the man who in his father’s fields

Has past an age of quiet. The same roof

That screened his cradle yields a shelter now

To his gray hairs. He leans upon a staff

Where as a child he crept along the ground,

And in one cottage he has numbered o’er

A length of years. Him fortune has not drawn

Into her whirl of strange vicissitudes;

Nor has he drunk, with ever-changing home,

From unknown rivers. Never on the deep,

A merchant, has he trembled at the storm;

Nor, as a soldier, started at the blare

Of trumpets; nor endured the noisy strife

Of the hoarse-clamoring bar: of the great world

Simply unconscious. To the neighboring town

A stranger, he enjoys the free expanse

Of open heaven. The old man marks his year,

Not by the names of consuls, but computes

Time by his various crops: by apples notes

The autumn; by the blooming flower the spring.

From the same field he sees his daily sun

Go down, and lift again its reddening orb;

And, by his own contracted universe,

The rustic measures the vast light of day.

He well remembers that broad massive oak

An acorn; and has seen the grove grow old,

Coeval with himself. Verona seems

To him more distant than the swarthy Ind:

He deems the lake Benacus like the shores

Of the red gulf. But his a vigor hale

And unabated: he has now outlived

Three ages; though a grandsire, green in years,

With firm and sinewy arms. The traveller

May roam to farthest Spain: he more has known

Of earthly space; the old man more of life.