Oft have I seen at some cathedral door . A laborer, pausing in the dust and heat, . Lay down his burden, and with reverent feet . Enter, and cross himself, and on the floor . Kneel to repeat his paternoster o'er; . Far off the noises of the world retreat; . The loud vociferations of the street . Become an undistinguishable roar. . So, as I enter here from day to day, .
And leave my burden at this minster gate, .
Kneeling in prayer, and not ashamed to pray, .
The tumult of the time disconsolate .
To inarticulate murmurs dies away, .
While the eternal ages watch and wait.II.2. How strange the sculptures that adorn these towers! . This crowd of statues, in whose folded sleeves . Birds build their nests; while canopied with leaves . Parvis and portal bloom like trellised bowers, . And the vast minster seems a cross of flowers! . But fiends and dragons on the gargoyled eaves . Watch the dead Christ between the living thieves, . And, underneath, the traitor Judas lowers! . Ah! from what agonies of heart and brain, .
What exultations trampling on despair, .
What tenderness, what tears, what hate of wrong, .
What passionate outcry of a soul in pain, .
Uprose this poem of the earth and air, .
This mediжval miracle of song! III.Written December 22, 1865.3. I enter, and I see thee in the gloom . Of the long aisles, O poet saturnine! . And strive to make my steps keep pace with thine. . The air is filled with some unknown perfume; . The congregation of the dead make room . For thee to pass; the votive tapers shine; . Like rooks that haunt Ravenna's groves of pine . The hovering echoes fly from tomb to tomb. . From the confessionals I hear arise .
Rehearsals of forgotten tragedies, .
And lamentations from the crypts below; .
And then a voice celestial that begins .
With the pathetic words, "Although your sins .
As scarlet be," and ends with "as the snow." IV.Written May 5, 1867.4. With snow-white veil and garments as of flame, . She stands before thee, who so long ago . Filled thy young heart with passion and the woe . From which thy song and all its splendors came; . And while with stern rebuke she speaks thy name, . The ice about thy heart melts as the snow . On mountain heights, and in swift overflow . Comes gushing from thy lips in sobs of shame. . Thou makest full confession; and a gleam, .
As of the dawn on some dark forest cast, .
Seems on thy lifted forehead to increase; .
Lethe and Eunoл -- the remembered dream .
And the forgotten sorrow -- bring at last .
That perfect pardon which is perfect peace. V.Written January 16, 1866.5. I lift mine eyes, and all the windows blaze . With forms of Saints and holy men who died, . Here martyred and hereafter glorified; . And the great Rose upon its leaves displays . Christ's Triumph, and the angelic roundelays, . With splendor upon splendor multiplied; . And Beatrice again at Dante's side . No more rebukes, but smiles her words of praise. . And then the organ sounds, and unseen choirs .
Sing the old Latin hymns of peace and love .
And benedictions of the Holy Ghost; .
And the melodious bells among the spires .
O'er all the house-tops and through heaven above .
Proclaim the elevation of the Host! VI.Written March 7, 1866.6. O star of morning and of liberty! . O bringer of the light, whose splendor shines . Above the darkness of the Apennines, . Forerunner of the day that is to be! . The voices of the city and the sea, . The voices of the mountains and the pines, . Repeat thy song, till the familiar lines . Are footpaths for the thought of Italy! . Thy fame is blown abroad from all the heights, .