Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Switzerland and Austria: Vol. XVI. 1876–79.

Austria: Trieste, Illyria


By Robert Browning (1812–1889)

WE were sailing by Triest,

Where a day or two we harbored:

A sunset was in the west,

When, looking over the vessel’s side,

One of our company espied

A sudden speck to larboard.

And, as a sea-duck flies and swims

At once, so came the light craft up,

With its sole lateen sail that trims

And turns (the water round its rims

Dancing, as round a sinking cup),

And by us like a fish it curled,

And drew itself up close beside,

Its great sail on the instant furled,

And o’er its planks a shrill voice cried

(A neck as bronzed as a Lascar’s),

“Buy wine of us, you English brig?

Or fruit, tobacco, and cigars?

A pilot for you to Triest?

Without one, look you ne’er so big,

They ’ll never let you up the bay!

We natives should know best.”

I turned, and “Just those fellows’ way,”

Our captain said, “the ’long-shore thieves

Are laughing at us in their sleeves.”

In truth, the boy leaned laughing back;

And one, half hidden by his side

Under the furled sail, soon I spied,

With great grass hat, and kerchief black,

Who looked up, with his kingly throat,

Said somewhat, while the other shook

His hair back from his eyes to look

Their longest at us; then the boat,

I know not how, turned sharply round,

Laying her whole side on the sea

As a leaping fish does; from the lee

Into the weather, cut somehow

Her sparkling path beneath our bow;

And so went off, as with a bound,

Into the rose and golden half

Of the sky, to overtake the sun,

And reach the shore, like the sea-calf

Its singing cave; yet I caught one

Glance ere away the boat quite passed,

And neither time nor toil could mar

Those features: so I saw the last

Of Waring!”