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


The Vaudois Valleys

By Felicia Hemans (1793–1835)

YES! thou hast met the sun’s last smile

From the haunted hills of Rome;

By many a bright Ægean isle

Thou hast seen the billows foam.

From the silence of the Pyramid,

Thou hast watched the solemn flow

Of the Nile, that with its waters hid

The ancient realm below.

Thy heart hath burned, as shepherds sung

Some wild and warlike strain,

Where the Moorish horn once proudly rung

Through the pealing hills of Spain.

And o’er the lonely Grecian streams

Thou hast heard the laurels moan,

With a sound yet murmuring in thy dreams

Of the glory that is gone.

But go thou to the pastoral vales

Of the Alpine mountains old,

If thou wouldst hear immortal tales

By the wind’s deep whispers told!

Go, if thou lov’st the soil to tread

Where man hath nobly striven,

And life, like incense, hath been shed,

An offering unto Heaven.

For o’er the snows and round the pines

Hath swept a noble flood;

The nurture of the peasant’s vines

Hath been the martyr’s blood!

A spirit stronger than the sword

And loftier than despair,

Through all the heroic region poured,

Breathes in the generous air.

A memory clings to every steep

Of long-enduring faith,

And the sounding streams glad record keep

Of courage unto death.

Ask of the peasant where his sires

For truth and freedom bled;

Ask where were lit the torturing fires,

Where lay the holy dead;

And he will tell thee, all around,

On fount and turf and stone,

Far as the chamois’ foot can bound,

Their ashes have been sown!

Go, when the Sabbath bell is heard

Up through the wilds to float,

When the dark old woods and caves are stirred

To gladness by the note;

When forth, along their thousand rills,

The mountain people come,

Join thou their worship on those hills

Of glorious martyrdom.

And while the song of praise ascends,

And while the torrent’s voice,

Like the swell of many an organ, blends,

Then let thy soul rejoice.

Rejoice, that human hearts, through scorn,

Through shame, through death, made strong,

Before the rocks and heavens have borne

Witness of God so long!