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

Rome, Palaces and Villas of

The Sistine Chapel

By Aubrey Thomas de Vere (1814–1902)

THOSE sounds expiring on mine ear, mine eye

Was by a corresponding impress spelled:

A vision of the angels that rebelled

Still hung before me through the yielding sky,

Sinking on plumes outstretched imploringly.

Their tempter’s hopes and theirs forever quelled,

They sank, with hands upon their eyes close-held,

And longed, methought, for death, yet could not die.

Down, ever down, a mournful pageant streaming

With the slow, ceaseless motion of a river,

Inwoven choirs to ruin blindly tending,

They sank. I wept as one who weeps while dreaming

To see them, host on host, by force descending

Down the dim gulfs, forever and forever.

FROM sadness on to sadness, woe to woe,

Searching all depths of grief ineffable,

Those sighs of the forsaken sink and swell,

And to a piercing shrillness, gathering, grow.

Now one by one, commingling now they flow;

Now in the dark they die, a piteous knell,

Lorn as the wail of exiled Israel,

Or Hagar weeping o’er her outcast. No,—

Never hath loss external forced such sighs!

O ye with secret sins that inly bleed,

And drift from God, search out, if ye are wise,

Your unrepented infelicities:

And pray, whate’er the punishment decreed,

It prove not exile from your Maker’s eyes.