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



By Samuel Rogers (1763–1855)

(From Italy)

THERE is a glorious city in the sea.

The sea is in the broad, the narrow streets,

Ebbing and flowing; and the salt sea-weed

Clings to the marble of her palaces.

No track of men, no footsteps to and fro,

Lead to her gates. The path lies o’er the sea,

Invisible; and from the land we went,

As to a floating city,—steering in,

And gliding up her streets as in a dream,

So smoothly, silently,—by many a dome,

Mosque-like, and many a stately portico,

The statues ranged along an azure sky;

By many a pile in more than Eastern pride,

Of old the residence of merchant-kings;

The fronts of some, though time had shattered them,

Still glowing with the richest hues of art,

As though the wealth within them had run o’er.


A few in fear,

Flying away from him whose boast it was,

That the grass grew not where his horse had trod,

Gave birth to Venice. Like the waterfowl,

They built their nests among the ocean-waves;

And where the sands were shifting, as the wind

Blew from the north or south,—where they that came

Had to make sure the ground they stood upon,

Rose, like an exhalation from the deep,

A vast metropolis, with glistering spires,

With theatres, basilicas adorned;

A scene of light and glory, a dominion,

That has endured the longest among men.