High Noon at Midsummer on the Campagna

High noon,
And from the purple-veilèd hills
To where Rome lies in azure mist
Scarce an breath of wind
Upon this vast and solitary waste,
These leagues of sunscorchd grass
Where i' the dawn the scrambling goats maintain
A hardy feast,
And where, when the warm yellow moon-light floods the flats,
Gaunt laggard sheep browse, spectrally for hours
While not less gaunt and spectral shepherds' stand
Brooding, or with hollow vacant eyes
Stare down the long perspectives of the dusk.
Now not a breath:
No sound;
No living thing,
Save where the beetle jars his crackling shards,
Or where the hoarse cicala fills
The heavy heated hour with palpitant whirr.
Yet hark!
Comes not a low deep whisper from the ground,
A sigh as though the immemorial past
Breathed here a long, slow, breath?
Hush'd nations sleep below; lost empires here
Are dust; and deeper still,
Dim shadowy peoples are the mould that warms
The roots of every flower that blooms and blows
Even as we, too, bloom and fade,
Who are so fain
To be as the Night that dies not, but forever
Weaves her immortal web of starry fires
To be as Time itself,
Time, whose vast holocausts
Lie here, deep buried from the ken of men,
Here, where no breath of wind
Ruffles the brooding heat,
The breathless blazing heat
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