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



By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)

(From Casa Guidi Windows)

AND Vallombrosa, we two went to see

Last June, beloved companion,—where sublime

The mountains live in holy families,

And the slow pine-woods ever climb and climb

Half up their breasts; just stagger as they seize

Some gray crag,—drop back with it many a time,

And straggle blindly down the precipice!

The Vallombrosan brooks were strewn as thick

That June-day, knee-deep, with dead beechen leaves,

As Milton saw them ere his heart grew sick,

And his eyes blind. I think the monks and beeves

Are all the same too: scarce they have changed the wick

On good St. Gualbert’s altar, which receives

The convent’s pilgrims; and the pool in front

Wherein the hill-stream trout are cast, to wait

The beatific vision, and the grunt

Used at refectory, keeps its weedy state,

To baffle saintly abbots, who would count

The fish across their breviary, nor ’bate

The measure of their steps. O waterfalls

And forests! sound and silence! mountains bare,

That leap up, peak by peak, and catch the palls

Of purple and silver mist, to rend and share

With one another, at electric calls

Of life in the sunbeams,—till we cannot dare

Fix your shapes, learn your number! we must think

Your beauty and your glory helped to fill

The cup of Milton’s soul so to the brink,

That he no more was thirsty when God’s will

Had shattered to his sense the last chain-link

By which he drew from Nature’s visible

The fresh well-water. Satisfied by this,

He sang of Adam’s Paradise and smiled,

Remembering Vallombrosa. Therefore is

The place divine to English man and child;—

We all love Italy.