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Poem by Bessie Rayner Parkes

The Appian Way

ACROSS the broad Campagna fell
The softly dropping rain,
Obscured the hills I love so well,
And blotted out the plain.

As those grey mists came sweeping by,
I seemed to see the ghosts
Of gallant Roman cavalry
Ride rallying to their posts.

The best of Rome was buried here,
Yet lonely is the way!
No living race esteems it dear--
No pilgrim comes to pray.

The nameless tombs are overthrown
And open to the air,
And scarce the very race is known
Of nobles resting there.

A dreary double file of graves
That stretch across the land,--
The thick wild grass above them waves,
A fence on either hand;

And, quivering o'er the traveller's head,
The long electric wires
Wail faint and sweet about the dead,
A dirge which never tires.

Pale shades that walk the Elysian groves
Would chant with tones like these,
Whose minor music softly moves
Responsive to the breeze.

When homeward bent at twilight hours
A yearning thrills through me;--
That long dim line of distant towers,
Like mountains seen at sea!--

How oft it rises in my heart,
A vision soft and grey,--
But never rendered yet by art--
Rome from the Appian Way!

Bessie Rayner Parkes

Bessie Rayner Parkes's other poems:
  1. The Old Chateau
  2. Rome
  3. On a Group of Justice and Charity
  4. A Midsummer NightТs Dream
  5. The Mersey and the Irwell

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