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

Tiber, the River

The Tiber

By Virgil (70–19 B.C.)

(From Æneid, Book VII)
Translated by C. P. Cranch

THE SEA was flushing in the morning’s rays,

And from the ethereal heights Aurora’s car

With rose and saffron gleamed; when suddenly

The winds were stilled, and every breath of air,

And the oars struggled through the sluggish sea.

And here Æneas from the deep descries

A spacious grove. Through this the Tiber pours

His smiling waves along, with rapid whirls,

And yellow sand, and bursts into the sea.

And all around and overhead were birds

Of various hues, accustomed to the banks

And river-bed; from tree to tree they flew,

Soothing the air with songs. Then to the land

He bids the crews direct the vessels’ prows,

And joyfully the shadowy river gains.


All through that night the Tiber calmed his flood,

And, ebbing backward, stood with tranquil waves,

Smoothing its surface like a placid lake,

That without struggling oars the ships might glide.

So on their way they speed with joyous shouts.

Along the waters slip the well-tarred keels;

The waves with wonder gaze, and from afar

The woods, unused to such a sight, admire

Upon the stream the heroes’ glittering shields

And painted vessels. Night and day their oars

They ply, pass the long bending river’s curves;

And through green shades of overhanging trees

They pierce, along the tranquil waters borne.

The fiery sun had reached his noonday height,

When from afar they see a citadel,

And walls, and scattered houses here and there;

Which now Rome matches with the skies, but then

Evander’s small and humble town. Then swift

They turn their prows, and near the city’s walls.