On a View of Spoleto

Thomas Pringle

A scene such as we picture in our dreams:
Grey castled rocks, green woods, and glittering streams;
Mountains in massive grandeur towering high;
Spires gleaming in the soft Ausonian sky;
Groves, gardens, villas, in their rich array;
Majestic ruins, glorious in decay;
Marvels by Art and Nature jointly wrought—
And every stone instinct with teeming thought:
Such look'st thou, fair Spoleto! — And the Art
That through the eye speaks volumes to the heart,
Lifting the veil that envious distance drew,
Reveals thee, bathed in beauty, to our view;
Each feature so distinct — so freshly fair,
We almost seem to scent thy mountain air-
Breathing upon us from yon clump of pines,
Where the blithe goatherd 'mid his flock reclines.

How rich the landscape! — opening, as we look,
To many a sacred fane and sylvan nook;
While through the vale, by antique arches spanned,
The river, like some stream of Fairyland,
Pours its bright waters, — with deep solemn sound,
As if rehearsing to the rocks around
The tale of other times. Methinks I hear
Its dream-like murmur melting on the ear, —
Telling of mighty chiefs whose deeds sublime
Loom out gigantic o'er the gulfs of Time;
Of the stern African whose conquering powers
Recoiled abashed from these heroic towers;
Of him who, when Rome's glorious days were gone,
Built yon grim pile to prop his Gothic throne;
Of Belisarius, Narses But 'twere vain
To weave such names into this idle strain;
These mouldering mounds their towering aims proclaim,
—The historic Muse hath given their acts to fame.

Spoleto! midst thy hills and storied piles,
Thy classic haunts and legendary aisles,
'Twere sweet, methinks, ere life hath passed away,
To spend one long, reflective summer's day;
Beneath those quiet shades my limbs to cast,
And muse o'er all that links thee to the past;
To linger on, through twilight's wizard hour,
Till the wan moon gleamed high o'er rock and tower,
And, with her necromantic lustre strange,
Lit up the landscape with a solemn change—
Gilding its grandeur into sad relief,
Like a pale widow stately in her grief.
So rose this scene on Rogeks' classic eye—
And thus, embalmed in words that ne'er could die,
Its touching image had remained enshrined,
Had he to verse transferred it from his mind.
Far other fate awaits this rustic lay,
Framed for the passing purpose of a day:
Enough for me if he its tone commend
Whom 'tis a pride and grace to call my Friend.


The town of Spoleto in Umbria, Italy, is an ancient Roman city. There are many poems about Umbria, and even more than 300 poems about Italy in the Atlas.

Main Location:

Spoleto, Umbria, Italy

Other locations:

View over Spoleto in Umbria, with Appenine Mountains beyond