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

Rome, the Protestant Burial-Ground

Two Graves at Rome

By Francis Turner Palgrave (1824–1897)

SAINTS and Cæsars are here,

Bishops of Rome and the world,

Rulers by love and by fear:—

Those who in purple and gold

Pranked and lorded it here;

Those who in sackcloth and shame

Elected their limbs to enfold,

Scornful of pleasure and fame:

—Ah, they had their reward!

There is something else that I seek

On the flowery sward,

By the pile of Cestius, here!

Is it but two stones like the rest

Fondly preserving a name

Elsewhere unheeded of fame,

Set here by love, and left

To gather gray, like the rest?

—Psha! ’T is the fate of man!

We are wretched, we are bereft

Of all that gave life its plan,

The sunbeam and treasure of yore;

We lay it in earth and are gone;

Then, as before,

We laugh and forget, like the rest.

A transient name on the stone,

A transient love in the heart;

We have our day and are gone:—

—But it is not so with these!

There is life and love in the stone;—

Names of beauty and light

Over all lands and seas

They have gone forth in their might:

Warmer and higher beats

The general heart at the words

Shelley and Keats:—

There is life and love in the stone!

He with the gleaming eyes

And glances gentle and wild,

The angel eternal child;

His heart could not throb like ours,

He could not see with our eyes

Dimmed with the dulness of earth,

Blind with the bondage of hours;

Yet none with diviner mirth

Hailed what was noble and sweet:

The blood-tracked journey of life,

The way-sore feet

None have watched with more human eyes.

And he who went first to the tomb—

Rejoice, great souls of the dead!

For none in that earlier Rome

Took a bolder and lordlier heart

To the all-receiving tomb:

No richer, more equable eye,

No tongue of more musical art

Conversed with the Gods on high,

Among all the minstrels who made

Sweetness ’tween Etna and Alp:

Nor was any laid

With such music and tears in the tomb.

—What seek ye, my comrades at Rome?

To see and be seen at the gay

Meet on the Appian Way,

Or within the tall palace at eve

To dance out your season at Rome?

To muse on the giants of old,

In the Forum at twilight to grieve?

It is more that these ruins enfold!

Warmer and higher beats

The Englishman’s heart at the words,

Shelley and Keats!

And here is the heart of our Rome.