Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Birds of Passage


Lake of Como

No sound of wheels or hoof-beat breaks
  The silence of the summer day,
As by the loveliest of all lakes
  I while the idle hours away.

I pace the leafy colonnade
  Where level branches of the plane
Above me weave a roof of shade
  Impervious to the sun and rain.

At times a sudden rush of air
  Flutters the lazy leaves o'erhead,
And gleams of sunshine toss and flare
  Like torches down the path I tread.

By Somariva's garden gate
  I make the marble stairs my seat,
And hear the water, as I wait,
  Lapping the steps beneath my feet.

The undulation sinks and swells
  Along the stony parapets,
And far away the floating bells
  Tinkle upon the fisher's nets.

Silent and slow, by tower and town
  The freighted barges come and go,
Their pendent shadows gliding down
  By town and tower submerged below.

The hills sweep upward from the shore,
  With villas scattered one by one
Upon their wooded spurs, and lower
  Bellaggio blazing in the sun.

And dimly seen, a tangled mass
  Of walls and woods, of light and shade,
Stands beckoning up the Stelvio Pass
  Varenna with its white cascade.

I ask myself, Is this a dream?
  Will it all vanish into air?
Is there a land of such supreme
  And perfect beauty anywhere?

Sweet vision!  Do not fade away;
  Linger until my heart shall take
Into itself the summer day,
  And all the beauty of the lake.

Linger until upon my brain
  Is stamped an image of the scene,
Then fade into the air again,
  And be as if thou hadst not been.