HWL. "Il Ponte Vecchio di Firenze." Autograph manuscript, 1874.


Longfellow Papers MS Am 1340 (129), p. 185. Houghton Library.

Longfellow's own Italian translation of a sonnet about the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Self-translation was, he told an American admirer in Florence, "one way of visiting Florence, and I fear the only one for me" (to Arabella Duffy, 25 January 1875). Here is the English original:

Taddeo Gaddi built me. I am old,
          Five centuries old. I plant my foot of stone
          Upon the Arno, as Saint Michael's own
          Was planted on the dragon. Fold by fold
Beneath me as it struggles, I behold
          Its glistening scales. Twice hath it overthrown           My kindred and companions. Me alone
          It moveth not, but is by me controlled
I can remember when the Medici
          Were driven from Florence; longer still ago           The final wars of Ghibelline and Guelf.
Florence adorns me with her jewelry;            
          And when I think that Michael Angelo   
          Hath leaned on me, I glory in myself.