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Alfred Austin from A Letter from Italy 04/04/2011

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Verse six of Alfred Austin’s A Letter from Italy, published in Lyrical Poems 1891

How looked Florence? Fair as when

Beatrice was only ten:

Nowise altered, just the same

Marble city, mountain frame,

Turbid river, cloudless sky,

As in days when you and I

Roamed its sunny streets, apart.

Ignorant of each other’s heart.

Little knowing that our feet

Slow were moving on to meet,

And that we should find, at last

Kindship in a common past.

But a shadow falls athwart

All her beauty, all her art

For alas! I vainly seek

Outstretched hand and kindling cheek.

Such as, in the bygone days.

Sweetened, sanctified her ways.

When, as evening belfries chime,

I to Bellosguardo climb.

Vaguely thinking there to find

Faces that still haunt my mind,

Though the doors stand open wide,

No one waits for me inside;

Not a voice comes forth to greet,

As of old, my nearing feet.

So I stand without, and stare.

Wishing you were here to share

Void too vast alone to bear.

To Ricorboli I wend:

But where now the dear old friend,

Heart as open as his gate.

Song, and jest, and simple state?

They who loved me all are fled;

Some are gone, and some are dead.

So, though young and lovely be

Florence still, it feels to me,

Thinking of the days that were.

Like a marble sepulchre.

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