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

Appendix: Tortona


By Giovanni Battista Niccolini (1782–1861)

(From Arnaldo da Bescia)
Translated by W. D. Howells

A HEAP of ashes now

Crowneth the hill where once Tortona stood;

And, drunken with her blood and with her wine,

Fallen there amidst her spoil upon the dead

Slept the wild beasts of Germany: like ghosts

Dim wandering through the darkness of the night,

Those that were left by famine and the sword

Hidden within the heart of thy dim caverns,

Desolate city! rose and turned their steps

Noiselessly towards compassionate Milan.

Thither they bore their swords and hopes! I see

A thousand heroes born from the example

Tortona gave. O city, if I could,

O sacred city! upon thy ruins fall

Reverently, and take them in mine arms,

The relics of thy brave I ’d gather up

In precious urns, and from the altars here

In days of battle offer to be kissed.