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

Appendix: Siena

The Villa

By William Wetmore Story (1819–1895)

(From Ginevra da Siena)

LET me go back to when I saw you last.

Our lives till then had close together lain,

Shaped each to each in habit, feeling, thought,

Like almonds twinned within a single shell.

What thought or hope was mine that was not yours?

What joy was mine that was not shared with you?

All was so innocent when we were girls;

Our little walks,—the days you spent with me

In the old villa,—where, with arms loose clasped

Around each other’s waists, we roamed along

Among the giant orange-pots that stood

At every angle of our garden-plot,

And told our secrets, while the fountain plashed,

And, waving in the breeze, its veil of mist

Swept o’er our faces. Think of those long hours

We in the arched and open loggia sat

Pricking the bright flowers on our broidery frames,

And as we chatted, lifting oft our eyes,

We gazed at Amiata’s purple height,

Trembling behind its opal veil of air;

Or on the nearer slopes through the green lanes,

Fenced either side with rich and running vines,

Watched the white oxen trail their basket-carts,

Or contadine with wide-flapping hats

Singing amid the olives, whose old trunks

Stood knee-deep in the golden fields of grain.

Do you remember the red poppies, too,

That glowed amid the tender green of spring,—

The purple larkspur that assumed their place

Mid the sheared stubble of the autumn fields,—

The ilex walk,—the acacia’s fingered twigs,—

The rose-hued oleanders peeping o’er

The terraced wall,—the slanting wall that propped

Our garden, from whose clefts the caper plants

Spirted their leaves and burst in plumy flowers?

All these are still the same, they do not miss

The eye that loved them so; and yet how oft

I wonder if those old magnolia-trees

Still feed the air with their great creamy flowers,

And show the wind their rusted under-leaf.

I wonder if that trumpet-flower is dead.

O heaven! they all should be, I loved them so;

Some one has killed them, if they have not died.

But you can see the villa any day,

And I am wearying you. Yet all these things

Are beads upon the rosary of youth,

And just to say their names recalls those hours

So full of joy,—each bead is like a prayer.

How many an hour I ’ve sat and dreamed of them!

And dear Siena, with its Campo tower

That seems to fall against the trooping clouds,

And the great Duomo with its pavement rich,

Till sick at heart I felt that I must die.

People are kneeling there upon it now,

But I shall never kneel there any more;

And bells ring out on happy festivals,

And all the pious people flock to mass,

But I shall never go there any more.

How all these little things come back to me

That I shall never see,—no, nevermore!

O, kiss the pavement, dear, when you go back!

Whisper a prayer for me where once I knelt,

And tell the dead stones how I love them still.