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

Naples, the Bay

The Song of the Siren Parthenope

By Anna Brownell Jameson (1794–1860)

A Rhapsody, Written at Naples

MINE are these waves, and mine the twilight depths

O’er which they roll, and all these tufted isles

That lift their backs like dolphins from the deep,

And all these sunny shores that gird us round!

Listen! O, listen to the sea-maid’s shell;

Ye who have wandered hither from far climes,

(Where the coy Summer yields but half her sweets)

To breathe my bland, luxurious airs, and drink

My sunbeams! and to revel in a land

Where Nature, decked out like a bride to meet

Her lover, lays forth all her charms, and smiles

Languidly bright, voluptuously gay,

Sweet to the sense, and tender to the heart.

Listen! O, listen to the sea-maid’s shell;

Ye who have fled your natal shores in hate

Or anger, urged by pale disease, or want,

Or grief, that, clinging like the spectre bat,

Sucks drop by drop the life-blood from the heart,

And hither come to learn forgetfulness

Or to prolong existence! ye shall find

Both,—though the spring Lethean flow no more,

There is a power in these entrancing skies

And murmuring waters and delicious airs,

Felt in the dancing spirits and the blood,

And falling on the lacerated heart

Like balm, until that life becomes a boon,

Which elsewhere is a burthen and a curse.

Hear then, O, hear the sea-maid’s airy shell;

Listen, O listen! ’t is the siren sings,—

The spirit of the deep,—Parthenope,—

She who did once i’ the dreamy days of old

Sport on these golden sands beneath the moon,

Or poured the ravishing music of her song

Over the silent waters, and bequeathed

To all these sunny capes and dazzling shores

Her own immortal beauty and her name.