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



By Felicia Hemans (1793–1835)

(From The Widow of Crescentius)

MIDST Tivoli’s luxuriant glades,

Bright-foaming falls, and olive shades,

Where dwelt, in days departed long,

The sons of battle and of song,

No tree, no shrub, its foliage rears;

But o’er the wrecks of other years,

Temples and domes, which long have been

The soil of that enchanted scene.

There the wild fig-tree and the vine

O’er Hadrian’s mouldering villa twine;

The cypress, in funereal grace,

Usurps the vanished column’s place;

O’er fallen shrine and ruined frieze

The wall-flower rustles in the breeze;

Acanthus leaves the marble hide

They once adorned in sculptured pride,

And Nature hath resumed her throne

O’er the vast works of ages flown.

Was it for this that many a pile,

Pride of Ilissus and of Nile,

To Anio’s banks the image lent

Of each imperial monument?

Now Athens weeps her shattered fanes,

Thy temples, Egypt, strew thy plains;

And the proud fabrics Hadrian reared

From Tiber’s vale have disappeared.

We need no prescient sibyl there

The doom of grandeur to declare;

Each stone, where weeds and ivy climb,

Reveals some oracle of time;

Each relic utters Fate’s decree,—

The future as the past shall be.

Halls of the dead! in Tiber’s vale

Who now shall tell your lofty tale?

Who trace the high patrician’s dome,

The bard’s retreat, the hero’s home?

When moss-clad wrecks alone record

There dwelt the world’s departed lord,

In scenes where verdure’s rich array

Still sheds young beauty or decay,

And sunshine on each glowing hill

Midst ruins finds a dwelling still.

Sunk is thy palace, but thy tomb,

Hadrian! hath shared a prouder doom.

Though vanished with the days of old

Its pillars of Corinthian mould;

Though the fair forms by sculpture wrought,

Each bodying some immortal thought,

Which o’er that temple of the dead

Serene but solemn beauty shed,

Have found, like glory’s self, a grave

In time’s abyss or Tiber’s wave;

Yet dreams more lofty and more fair

Than Art’s bold hand hath imaged e’er,

High thoughts of many a mighty mind

Expanding when all else declined,

In twilight years, when only they

Recalled the radiance passed away,

Have made that ancient pile their home,

Fortress of freedom and of Rome.