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

September 21

To Virgil

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)

  • (Died September 21, 19 B.C.)
  • Written at the request of the Mantuana for the XIX Centenary of Virgil’s death.

  • ROMAN Virgil, thou that singest Ilion’s lofty temples robed in fire,

    Ilion falling, Rome arising, wars, and filial faith, and Dido’s pyre;

    Landscape-lover, lord of language more than he that sang the Works and Days,

    All the chosen coin of fancy flashing out from many a golden phrase;

    Thou that singest wheat and woodland, tilth and vineyard, hive and horse and herd;

    All the charm of all the Muses often flowering in a lonely word;

    Poet of the happy Tityrus piping underneath his beechen bowers;

    Poet of the poet-satyr whom the laughing shepherd bound with flowers;

    Chanter of the Pollio, glorying in the blissful years again to be,

    Summers of the snakeless meadow, unlaborious earth and oarless sea;

    Thou that seest Universal Nature moved by Universal Mind;

    Thou majestic in thy sadness at the doubtful doom of human kind;

    Light among the vanished ages; star that gildest yet this phantom shore;

    Golden branch amid the shadows, kings and realms that pass to rise no more;

    Now thy Forum roars no longer, fallen every purple Cæsar’s dome—

    Tho’ thine ocean-roll of rhythm sound for ever of Imperial Rome—

    Now the Rome of slaves hath perished, and the Rome of freemen holds her place,

    I, from out the Northern Island sunder’d once from all the human race,

    I salute thee, Montovano, I that loved thee since my day began,

    Wielder of the stateliest measure ever moulded by the lips of man.