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Ever at hand to calm his troubled soul),
Sailed slowly by, two thousand years ago,
For ATHENS; when a ship, if north-east winds
Blew from the PÆSTAN gardens, slacked her course.
On as he moved along the level shore,
These temples, in their splendor eminent
'Mid arcs and obelisks, and domes and towers,
Reflecting back the radiance of the west,
Well might he dream of Glory!-Now, coiled up,
The serpent sleeps within them; the she-wolf
Suckles her young: and, as alone I stand
In this, the nobler pile, the elements
Of earth and air its only floor and roof,
How solemn is the stillness! Nothing stirs
Save the shrill-voiced cicala flitting round
On the rough pediment to sit and sing;
Or the green lizard rustling through the grass,
And up the fluted shaft. with short quick spring,
To vanish in the chinks that Time has made.
In such an hour as this, the sun's broad disk
Seen at his setting, and a flood of light
Filling the courts of these old sanctuaries
(Gigantic shadows, broken and confused,
Athwart the innumerable columns flung)
In such an hour he came, who saw and told,
Led by the mighty genius of the place.
Walls of some capital city first appeared,
Half razed, half sunk, or scattered as in scorn;
And what within them? what but in the midst These Three in more than their original grandeur, And, round about, no stone upon another?
As if the spoiler had fallen back in fear,
And, turning, left them to the elements.
"T is said a stranger in the days of old (Some say a DORIAN, some a SYBARITE; But distant things are ever lost in clouds) 'T is said a stranger came, and, with his plough, Traced out the site; and POSIDONIA rose," Severely great, NEPTUNE the tutelar god; A HOMER'S language murmuring in her streets, And in her haven many a mast from TYRE. Then came another, an unbidden guest. He knocked and entered with a train in arms;
And all was changed, her very name and language!
The TYRIAN merchant, shipping at his door
Ivory and gold, and silk, and frankincense,
Sailed as before, but, sailing, cried, "FOR PÆSTUM !"
And now a VIRGIL, now an OVID sung
PÆSTUM's twice-blowing roses; while, within,
Parents and children mourned- and, every year
('T was on the day of some old festival),
Met to give way to tears, and once again
Talk in the ancient tongue of things gone by.30
At length an Arab climbed the battlements,
Slaying the sleepers in the dead of night;
And from all eyes the glorious vision fled!
Leaving a place lonely and dangerous,
Where whom the robber spares, a deadlier foe 307
Strikes at unseen and at a time when joy
Opens the heart, when summer-skies are blue,
And the clear air is soft and delicate;
For then the demon works then with that air
The thoughtless wretch drinks in a subtle poison
Lulling to sleep; and, when he sleeps, he dies.
But what are these still standing in the midst?
The earth has rocked beneath; the thunder-bolt
Passed through and through, and left its traces there;
Yet still they stand as by some unknown charter !
O, they are Nature's own! and, as allied
To the vast mountains and the eternal sea,
They want no written history; theirs a voice
Forever speaking to the heart of man!
HE who sets sail from NAPLES, when the wind
Blows fragrance from PosÌLIPO, may soon,
Crossing from side to side that beautiful lake,
Land underneath the cliff where, once among
The children gathering shells along the shore,
One laughed and played, unconscious of his fate;
His to drink deep of sorrow, and, through life,
To be the scorn of them that knew him not,
Trampling alike the giver and his gift,
The gift a pearl precious, inestimable,
A lay divine, a lay of love and war,
To charm, ennoble, and, from age to age,
Sweeten the labor when the oar was plied
Or on the ADRIAN or the TUSCAN sea.
There would I linger-then go forth again, And hover round that region unexplored, Where to SALVATOR (when, as some relate, By chance or choice he led a bandit's life,
Yet oft withdrew, alone and unobserved,
To wander through those awful solitudes)
Nature revealed herself. Unveiled she stood
In all her wildness, all her majesty,
As in that elder time ere man was made.
There would I linger-then go forth again;
And he who steers due east, doubling the cape,
Discovers, in a crevice of the rock,
The fishing-town, AMALFI. Haply there
A heaving bark, an anchor on the strand,
May tell him what it is; but what it was
Cannot be told so soon.
The time has been, When on the quays along the SYRIAN coast 'T was asked, and eagerly, at break of dawn, "What ships are from AMALFI?" when her coins, Silver and gold, circled from clime to clime; From ALEXANDRIA southward to SENNAAR, And eastward, through DAMASCUS and CABUL And SAMARCAND, to thy great wall, CATHAY.10
Then were the nations by her wisdom swayed; And every crime on every sea was judged According to her judgments. In her port Prows, strange, uncouth, from NILE and NIGER met,
People of various feature, various speech;
And in their countries many a house of prayer,
And many a shelter, where no shelter was,
And many a well, like JACOB's in the wild,
Rose at her bidding. Then in PALESTINE,
By the way-side, in sober grandeur stood
A hospital, that, night and day, received
The pilgrims of the west; and, when 't was asked,
"Who are the noble founders ?" every tongue
At once replied, "The merchants of AMALFI.”
That hospital, when GODFREY scaled the walls,
Sent forth its holy men in complete steel;
And hence, the cowl relinquished for the helm,
That chosen band, valiant, invincible,
So long renowned as champions of the cross,
In RHODES, in MALTA.
For three hundred years There, unapproached but from the deep, they dwelt; Assailed forever, yet from age to age Acknowledging no master.
From the deep
They gathered in their harvests; bringing home,
In the same ship, relics of ancient GREECE,
That land of glory where their fathers lay,
Grain from the golden vales of SICILY,
And INDIAN spices. Through the civilized world
Their credit was ennobled into fame;
And, when at length they fell, they left mankind
A legacy, compared with which the wealth
Of Eastern kings—what is it in the scale? -
The mariner's compass.
They are now forgot, And with them all they did, all they endured, Struggling with fortune. When SICARDI stood On his high deck, his falchion in his hand, And, with a shout like thunder, cried, "Come forth, And serve me in SALERNO!" forth they came, Covering the sea, a mournful spectacle; The women wailing, and the heavy oar Falling unheard. Not thus did they return,