Saturday, May 14, 2011

Divina Commedia: Second Sonnet - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In the second of the six "Divina Commedia" poems, Longfellow continues to describe a medieval cathedral, its majesty and artistry.  Here, he is still talking about the outside of the cathedral (the inside comes next).

Divina Commedia: Second Sonnet

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 mediæval miracle of song!

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