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



By John Edmund Reade (1800–1870)

(From Italy)

DARK Vallombrosa! thy Etrurian shade

Is hallowed by a spell that is not thine:

A spirit lingers here that doth pervade

Thy sanctuary: earth is made divine

From human memories, when upon each line

Of her calm brow the signet is confessed;

Memnonian image! as, with touches fine

Morn’s fingers music from its bosom pressed,

So genius kindles life from thy responsive breast.

Doubt’st thou her inspirations? lo, yon peaks

Titanic, burying their spears in heaven

As if they dared the thunder, or where breaks

Through mist and foam yon torrents headlong driven,

Hurled over trees and precipices riven:

Hark! to their roar in yon Tartarean dell,

Ravings as of the tortured unforgiven;

Type they not elder faiths to us and tell

The strife of powers opposed, the war of heaven and hell?

Lo! round the mountain’s scathed sides like a wall,

Pines lightning-blasted, wear such forms as wore

The thunder-stricken angels: like a pall

The up-seething mists rise shrouding white and hoar,

Forests all crushed, still raising from the roar

Of waters their wild branches red and sere,

Thick as the weeds on ocean’s surf-heaped shore;

This is the vale of shadow, pause thou here

Where deathless Milton trod, the sacred ground revere.

O, while these autumn leaves are round me lying,

While thy Etrurian shades o’erarched embower,

While the wind seems thy voice to mine replying,

Bard of lost Paradise, I call thee, power

That liv’st among us, hear! while the clouds lower,

And the leaves mount the whirlwind, I would be

Conscious of thy great presence in this hour:

I would behold thee, like the prophet, flee

Heavenward, but left on earth thy robe of prophecy.