Italy – Italian Morning

THE hearth of dawn is burning on the sea, Night’s purple pales, and swift the pallor turns To amber and to amaranth ; light yearns Along the liquid dark. In raiment free, Wrought of wind-shotten flame, on golden arms, Morning, the Mother, lifts her babe and charms The young day’s wondering eyes with Italy.

He sees the jewelled turmoil of the shore, The cornice and the cavern of each wave,

The wakened deep, where flashing sun-stars pave The pathless places, and the hollow, hoar, Old billows beating out on shell and sand Their song, that stilleth not since sea and land Were parted, in the primal time of yore.

Above the beach, by terraces that still

Twine upward, where low cliffs betray the light, A town of many turrets grey and white Springs clustered close, as though one only will That dreamed in pearl and opal, here had brought This glimmering wonder of incarnate thought, Like a dim rainbow arching on the hill.

All checked and dappled, the vibrating light Rides on an aureole of waxing fire,

By arch and arboured roof, by dome and spire, Along the fleeting watches of the night. Morning doth jewel every shrine ; the wells Glitter with wide, wet mouths ; and little bells Shrill from the campanile’s rosy height.

Beyond, the fringes of the mountain bare For vine and citron ; all the terraced earth Smiles like a bride beneath her bloom veil. Mirth Of silver-petalled cherry, almond, pear

Rains on the roses ; and the olive mills

Darken the river with their wine-red rills. The great reed’s silky whisper rises there.

Beheld afar, the villages elate,

In garb of lavender and buff and blue, Spattered with rust and russet and the hue Of honey, wake and shine. By ruined gate The laden branches of the lemon fall And over faded tiles and mossy wall Spring aigrettes of the golden-fruited date.

Aloft the far-flung orchards thinly float

Their smoke upon the mountains. In a cloud The dim, innumerable olives shroud With misty jade each bosomed hill remote. The wrinkled, lion-coloured earth they fold In crumpled undulations, like an old Grey coverlet dragged to an ancient throat.

And where they cease upon the slopes, anew Earth lifts aloft her tawny, lean-ribbed breast In precipice and pinnacle, all dressed With myrtle, mastic, rosemary, and rue, For fragrant girdles round the upper world. And twinkling down are lonely torrents hurled In threads of fire against the shadowy blue.

Follow the far-flung, closely-knitted pelts Of forest pines that throng the higher steep And clasp and cling and never fail to keep

The mighty mould beneath them. Cloudy belts, Red on the ridge and purple in the glen, Circle each crag and hide from every ken Their lifted foreheads, where the morning melts.

The billows of the still white cumuli

Float in thin ripples, and the sunrise spreads With many a loop of fire about the heads

Of solemn mountains, where they lift on high And spire upon their silent canopy,

And join the silver-feathered, sapphire sea, Unto the silver-feathered, sapphire sky.

A blessing to thy borders, land of light ! Spirit of man, brave as the morning, found His charter sanctified on this good ground When Liberty fore-glowed along the night. Then heroes sang her glad epiphany, And eagle legions soared aloft to dye

Their feathers in the dawning of her might.

Oh, by the morn upon thine inland sea,

By waves and hills that roll and lights that rove, To finger foam and forest with pure love, Forget not thine immortal history.

By the wide dayspring on thy crowns of snow And by the beacon of thine own heart’s glow, Again be fearless and again be free.