GARDENS of olive, gardens of almond, gardens of lemon, down to the shore,
Terrace on terrace, lost in the hollow ravines where the stony torrents pour ;
Spurs of the mountain-side thrusting above them rocky capes in the quiet air,
Silvery-green with thorned vegetation, sprawling lobes of the prickly pear ;
High up, the eagle-nest, small Mola’s ruin, clinging and hanging over the fall ;
Nobly the lofty, castle-cragged hilltop, famed Taormina, looketh o’er all.
Southward the purple Mediterranean rounds the far-shimmering, long-fingered capes ;
Twenty sea-leagues has the light traveled ere out of azure yon headland it shapes ;
Purple the distance, deep indigo under, save by the beach the emerald floor,
Save just below where, ever emerging, lakes of mother-of-pearl drift o’er;
Deep purple northward, over the Straits, as far as the long Calabrian blue,—
Front more majestic of sea-mountains nowhere is there uplifted the whole earth through.
Seaward, so vast the prospect envelops one half the broad world, wave and sky ;
Landward, the ribbon of hill-slanted orchards blossoming down from the mountains high ;
Beautiful, mighty ; — yet ever I leave it, lose and forget it in yon awful clime,
Ætna, out of the sea-floor raising slowly its long-skied ridge sublime ;
Heavily snow-capped, girdled with forests, Ætna, the bosom of frost and fire;
Roughened by lava-floods, bossed and sculptured, massive, immense, alone, entire ;
Clear are the hundred white-coped craters sunk in the wrinkled winter there;
Smoke from the summit cloud-like trailing lessens and swells and drags on the air ; Ætna, the snow, the fire, the forest, lightning and Mood and ashy gale ;
Terrible out of thy caverns flowing, the burning heaven, the dark hot hail!
Ætna, the garden-sweet mother of vineyard, corn-tilth, and fruits that hang from the sky;
Bee-pastured Ætna ; it charms me, it holds me, it fills me, than life is it more nigh;
Till into darkness withdrawn, dense darkness ; and far below from the deep-set shore
Glimmers the long white surf, and arises the ancient far-resounding roar.
G. E. Woodberry.