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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 wayside, 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 larvests; 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.
TT is the mid-May sun that, rayless and peacefully
gleaming, Out of its night's short prison this blessed of lands is
redeeming ; It is the fire evoked from the hearts of the citron and
orange, So that they hang, like lamps of the day, translucently
beaming; It is the veinless water, and air unsoiled by a vapor, Save what, out of the fulness of life, from the valley
is steaming ; It is the olive that smiles, even he, the sad growth of
the moonlighit, Over the flowers, whose breasts triple-folded with odors
are teeming; Yes, it is these bright births that to me are a shame
and an anguish; They are alive and awake, I dream, and know I am
dreaming ; I cannot bathe my soul in this ocean of passion and
beauty, Not one dewdrop is on me of all that about me is
streaming; 0, I am thirsty for life, - I pant for the freshness of
nature, Bound in the world's dead sleep, dried up by its treacherous seeming.
Where the waves and mountains meet,
Where amid her mulberry-trees
Sits Amalfi in the heat,
Bathing ever her white feet
In the tideless summer seas.
In the middle of the town,
From its fountains in the hills,
Tumbling through the narrow gorge,
The Canneto rushes down,
Turns the great wheels of the mills,
Lifts the hammers of the forge.
'T is a stairway, not a street,
That ascends the deep ravine,
Where the torrent leaps between
Rocky walls that almost meet.
Toiling up from stair to stair
Peasant girls their burdens bear;
Sunburnt daughters of the soil,
Stately figures tall and straight,
What inexorable fate
Dooms them to this life of toil ?
Lord of vineyards and of lands,
Far above the convent stands.
On its terraced walk aloof
Leans a monk with folded hauds,
Placid, satisfied, serene,
Looking down upon the scene
Over wall and red-tiled roof;
Wondering unto what good end
All this toil and traffic tend,
And why all men canuot be
Free from care and free from pain,
And the sordid love of gain,
And as indolent as he.
Where are now the freighted barks
From the marts of east and west;
Where the knights in iron sarks
Journeying to the Holy Land,
Glove of steel upon the hand,
Cross of crimson on the breast ?
Where the pomp of camp and court ?
Where the pilgrims with their prayers ?
Where the merchants with their wares,
And their gallant brigantines
Sailing safely into port
Chased by corsair Algerines ?
Vanished like a fleet of cloud,
Like a passing trumpet-blast,
Are those splendors of the past,
And the commerce and the crowd !
Fathoms deep beneath the seas
Lie the ancient wharves and quays,
Swallowed by the engulfing waves;
Silent streets and vacant halls,
Ruined roofs and towers and walls;
Hidden from all mortal eyes
Deep the sunken city lies :
Even cities have their graves !
This is an enchanted land!
Round the headlands far away
Sweeps the blue Salernian bay
With its sickle of white sand :
Further still and furthermost
On the dim discovered coast
Pæstum with its ruins lies,
And its roses all in bloom
Seem to tinge the fatal skies
Of that lonely land of doom.
On his terrace, high in air,
Nothing doth the good monk care
For such worldly themes as these.
From the garden just below
Little puffs of perfume blow,
And a sound is in his ears
Of the murmur of the bees
In the shining chestnut-trees;
Nothing else he heeds or hears.
All the landscape seems to swoon
In the happy afternoon;
Slowly o’er bis senses creep
The encroaching waves of sleep,