O LOVE, what hours were thine and mine,
In lands of palm and southern pine;
In lands of palm, of orange-blossom,
Of olive, aloe, and maize and vine.
What Roman strength Turbia show’d
In ruin, by the mountain road;
How like a gem, beneath, the city
Of little Monaco, basking, glow’d.
How richly down the rocky dell
The torrent vineyard streaming fell
To meet the sun and sunny waters,
That only heaved with a summer swell.
What slender campanili grew
By bays, the peacock’s neck in hue;
Where, here and there, on sandy beaches
A milky-bell’d amaryllis blew.
How young Columbus seem’d to rove,
Yet present in his natal grove,
Now watching high on mountain cornice,
And steering, now, from a purple cove,
Now pacing mute by ocean’s rim;
Till, in a narrow street and dim,
I stay’d the wheels at Cogoletto,
And drank, and loyally drank to him.
Nor knew we well what pleased us most,
Not the clipt palm of which they boast;
But distant colour, happy hamlet,
A moulder’d citadel on the coast,
Or tower, or high hill-convent, seen
A light amid its olives green;
Or olive-hoary cape in ocean;
Or rosy blossom in hot ravine,
Where oleanders flush’d the bed
Of silent torrents, gravel-spread;
And, crossing, oft we saw the glisten
Of ice, far up on a mountain head.
We loved that hall, tho’ white and cold,
Those niched shapes of noble mould,
A princely people’s awful princes,
The grave, severe Genovese of old.
At Florence too what golden hours,
In those long galleries, were ours;
What drives about the fresh Cascinè
Or walks in Boboli’s ducal bowers.
In bright vignettes, and each complete,
Of tower or duomo, sunny-sweet,
Or palace, how the city glitter’d,
Thro’ cypress avenues, at our feet.
But when we crost the Lombard plain
Remember what a plague of rain;
Of rain at Reggio, rain at Parma;
At Lodi, rain, Piacenza, rain.
And stern and sad (so rare the smiles
Of sunlight) look’d the Lombard piles;
Porch-pillars on the lion resting,
And sombre, old, colonnaded aisles.
O Milan, O the chanting quires,
The giant windows’ blazon’d fires,
The height, the space, the gloom, the glory!
A mount of marble, a hundred spires!
I climb’d the roofs at break of day;
Sun-smitten Alps before me lay.
I stood among the silent statues,
And statued pinnacles, mute as they.
How faintly-flush’d, how phantom-fair,
Was Monte Rosa, hanging there
A thousand shadowy-pencill’d valleys
And snowy dells in a golden air.
Remember how we came at last
To Como; shower and storm and blast
Had blown the lake beyond his limit,
And all was flooded; and how we past
From Como, when the light was gray,
And in my head, for half the day,
The rich Virgilian rustic measure
Of Lari Maxume, all the way,
Like ballad-burthen music, kept,
As on The Lariano crept
To that fair port below the castle
Of Queen Theodolind, where we slept;
Or hardly slept, but watch’d awake
A cypress in the moonlight shake,
The moonlight touching o’er a terrace
One tall Agavè above the lake.
What more? we took our last adieu,
And up the snowy Splugen drew,
But ere we reach’d the highest summit
I pluck’d a daisy, I gave it you.
It told of England then to me,
And now it tells of Italy.
O love, we two shall go no longer
To lands of summer across the sea;
So dear a life your arms enfold
Whose crying is a cry for gold:
Yet here to-night in this dark city,
When ill and weary, alone and cold,
I found, tho’ crush’d to hard and dry,
This nurseling of another sky
Still in the little book you lent me,
And where you tenderly laid it by:
And I forgot the clouded Forth,
The gloom that saddens Heaven and Earth,
The bitter east, the misty summer
And gray metropolis of the North.
Perchance, to lull the throbs of pain,
Perchance, to charm a vacant brain,
Perchance, to dream you still beside me,
My fancy fled to the South again.