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



By Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)

(From Lines Written among the Euganean Hills)

SUN-GIRT city! thou hast been

Ocean’s child, and then his queen;

Now is come a darker day,

And thou soon must be his prey,

If the power that raised thee here

Hallow so thy watery bier,

A less drear ruin then than now,

With thy conquest-branded brow

Stooping to the slave of slaves

From thy throne, among the waves

Wilt thou be, when the sea-mew

Flies, as once before it flew,

O’er thine isles depopulate,

And all is in its ancient state,

Save where many a palace-gate

With green sea-flowers overgrown

Like a rock of ocean’s own,

Topples o’er the abandoned sea

As the tides change sullenly.

The fisher on his watery way,

Wandering at the close of day,

Will spread his sail and seize his oar

Till he pass the gloomy shore,

Lest thy dead should, from their sleep

Bursting o’er the starlight deep,

Lead a rapid masque of death

O’er the waters of his path.

Those who alone thy towers behold

Quivering through aerial gold,

As I now behold them here,

Would imagine not they were

Sepulchres, where human forms,

Like pollution-nourished worms,

To the corpse of greatness cling,

Murdered, and now mouldering;

But if Freedom should awake

In her omnipotence, and shake

From the Celtic anarch’s hold

All the keys of dungeons cold,

Where a hundred cities lie

Chained like thee, ingloriously,

Thou and all thy sister band

Might adorn this sunny land,

Twining memories of old time

With new virtues more sublime;

If not, perish thou and they,

Clouds which stain truth’s rising day

By her sun consumed away,

Earth can spare ye: while like flowers,

In the waste of years and hours,

From your dust new nations spring

With more kindly blossoming.

Perish! let there only be

Floating o’er thy hearthless sea,

As the garment of thy sky

Clothes the world immortally,

One remembrance, more sublime

Than the tattered pall of Time,

Which scarce hides thy visage wan,

That a tempest-cleaving swan

Of the songs of Albion,

Driven from his ancestral streams

By the might of evil dreams,

Found a nest in thee; and Ocean

Welcomed him with such emotion

That its joy grew his, and sprung

From his lips like music flung

O’er a mighty thunder-fit,

Chastening terror: what though yet

Poesy’s unfailing river,

Which through Albion winds forever,

Lashing with melodious wave

Many a sacred poet’s grave,

Mourn its latest nursling fled!

What though thou with all thy dead

Scarce can for this fame repay

Aught thine own,—O, rather say,

Though thy sins and slaveries foul

Overcloud a sunlike soul!

As the ghost of Homer clings

Round Scamander’s wasting springs;

As divinest Shakespeare’s might

Fills Avon and the world with light,

Like omniscient power, which he

Imaged mid mortality;

As the love from Petrarch’s urn,

Yet amid yon hills doth burn,

A quenchless lamp, by which the heart

Sees things unearthly: so thou art,

Mighty spirit; so shall be

The city that did refuge thee.