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



By Sir Arthur Helps (1813–1875)

(From Oulita, the Serf. Act IV. Scene II.)

VENICE, dear to every one

Whose gracious star has led him to behold her;

So dear that in the memory she remains,

Like an old love, who would, indeed, have been

Our only love, but died, and all the past

Is full of her untried perfections, while

Amidst the unknown recesses of our hearts

Enthroned she sits, in tenderest mist of thought,

Like the soft brilliancy of autumn haze,

Seen at the setting of the sun: and such

Is Venice,—to repeat her name is sweet,

Just as I love to say the word Oulita.

And then of the dark, swanlike gondolas

We talked; and how, midst crumbling palaces,

Great churches, richly inlaid mosques and columns,

Each step an ample field for history,

And under bridges mossed with dripping sea-weed

(A thousand silvery lights reflected from

The rippling waters, upwards on the arches

Playing fondly, like glad insects in the sun),

The dark-clad gondola went gurgling by,

Its inmate lost in sweetest meditation,—

Went gurgling by, went gurgling by.