James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

July 19

Petrarch’s Tomb

By Lord Byron (1788–1824)

From “Childe Harold”

(Died July 19, 1374)

THERE is a tomb in Arqua;—rear’d in air

Pillar’d in their sarcophagus, repose

The bones of Laura’s lover: here repair

Many familiar with his well-sung woes,

The pilgrims of his genius. He arose

To raise a language, and his land reclaim

From the dull yoke of her barbaric foes:

Watering the tree which bears his lady’s name

With his melodious tears he gave himself to fame.

They keep his dust in Arqua, where he died;

The mountain-village where his latter days

Went down the vale of years; and ’tis their pride—

An honest pride—and let it be their praise,

To offer to the passing stranger’s gaze

His mansion and his sepulchre; both plain

And venerably simple, such as raise

A feeling more accordant with his strain

Than if a pyramid form’d his monumental fame.

And the soft quiet hamlet where he dwelt

Is one of that complexion which seems made

For those who their mortality have felt,

And sought a refuge from their hopes decay’d

In the deep umbrage of a green hill’s shade,

Which shows a distant prospect far away

Of busy cities, now in vain display’d,

For they can lure no further; and the ray

Of a bright sun can make sufficient holiday.