Landon in The Literary Gazette 1822/Arion

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For other versions of this work, see Arion (Letitia Elizabeth Landon).


Literary Gazette, 23rd November, 1822, Pages 745



IV. - Arion.[1]

The winds are high, the clouds are dark,
But stay not thou for storm, my bark;
What is the song of love to me,
Unheard, my sweet Eglæ, by thee?
Fair lips may smile, and eyes may shine;
But lip nor eye will be like thine,
And every blush that mantles here
But images one more bright and more dear.
My spirit of song is languid and dead,
If not at thine altar of beauty fed.
Again I must listen thy gentle tone,
And make its echo in music my own;
Again I must look on thy smile divine,
Again I must see the red flowers twine
Around my harp, enwreathed by thine hand,
And waken its chords at my love's command.—
I have dwelt in a distant but lovely place,
And worshipped many a radiant face;
And sipped the flowers from the purple wine,
But they were not so sweet as one kiss of thine.
I have wandered o'er land, I have wandered o'er sea,
But my heart has ne'er wandered, Eglæ, from thee.—
And, Greece, my own, my glorious land!
I will take no laurel but from thy hand.
What is the light of a Poet's name,
If it is not his country that hallows his fame?
Where may he look for guerdon so fair
As the honour and praise that await him there?
His name will be lost and his grave forgot,
If the tears of his country preserve them not! - -

- - - He laid him on the deck to sleep,
And pleasant was his rest, and deep;
He heard familiar voices speak,
He felt his love's breath on his cheek;
He looked upon his own blue skies,
He saw his native temples rise:
Even in dreams he wept to see
What he had loved so tenderly.
The Sailors looked within the hold,
And envied him his shining gold:
They waked him, bade him mark the wave,
And said 'twas for Arion's grave!
He watched each dark face that appeared,
And saw each heart with gold was seared,
Then roused his spirit's energy,
And stood prepared in pride to die!
He cast one look upon his lyre—
He felt his heart and hand on fire,
And prayed the slaves to let him pour
His spirit in its song once more!
He sung,—the notes at first were low,
Like the whispers of love, or the breathings of woe:
The waters were hushed, and the winds were stay'd,
As he sang his farewell to his Lesbian maid!

Even his murderers paused and wept,
But looked on the gold and their purpose kept.
More proudly he swept the chords along,
'Twas the stirring burst of a battle song—
And with the last close of his martial strain
He plunged with his lyre in the deep blue main!
- - - The tempest has burst from its blackened dwelling,
The lightning is flashing, the waters are swelling
In mountains crested with foam and with froth,
And the wind has rushed like a giant forth;
The deck is all spray, the mast is shattered,
The sails, like the leaves in the autumn, are scattered;
The Mariner's pale with fear, for a grave
Is in the dark bosom of every wave.
The billows rushed—one fearful cry
Is heard of human agony!
Another swell—no trace is seen
Of what upon its breast has been! - - - -
But who is he, who o'er the sea
Rides like a god, triumphantly,
Upon a dolphin? All is calm
Around—the air he breathes is balm,
And quiet as beneath the sky
Of his own flowery Arcady;
And all grows peaceful, as he rides
His dolphin through the glassy tides;
And ever as he music drew
From his sweet harp, a brightening hue,
Like rainbow tints, a gentle bound,
Told how the creature loved the sound.
Arion, some god has watched over thee,
And saved thee alike from man and the sea.
The night came on, a summer night,
With snowy clouds and soft starlight;
And glancing meteors, like the flash

Sent from a Greek girl's dark eyelash
O'er a sky as blue as her own blue eyes,
Borne by winds as perfumed and light as her sighs.
The zenith Moon was shedding her light
In the silence and glory of deep midnight,
When the voice of singing was heard from afar,
Like the music that echoes a falling star;
And presently came gliding by
The Spirit of the melody:
A radiant shape, her long gold hair
Flew like a banner on the air,
Save one or two bright curls that fell
Like gems upon a neck whose swell
Rose like the dove's, when its mate's caress
Is smoothing the soft plumes in tenderness;
And one arm, white as the sea spray,
Amid the chords of music lay.
She swept the strings, and fixed the while
Her dark eye's wild luxuriant smile
Upon Arion; and her lip,
Like the first spring rose that the bee can sip,
Curled half in the pride of its loveliness,
And half with a love-sigh's voluptuousness.
   There is a voice of music swells
      In the ocean's coral groves;
   Sweet is the harp in the pearly cells,
      Where the step of the sea-maid roves.
   The angry storm when it rolls above,
      At war with the foaming wave,
   Is soft and low as the voice of love,
      Ere it reach her sparry cave.
   When the Sun seeks his glorious rest,
      And his beams o'er ocean fall,
   The gold and the crimson, spread on the west,
      Brighten her crystal hall.
   The sands of amber breathe perfume,
      Gemm'd with pearls like tears of snow,
   Around in wreaths the white sea-flowers bloom,
      The waves in music flow.
   Child of the lyre! is not this a spot
      That would suit a minstrel well?
   Then haste thee and share the Sea-maid's lot,
      Her love and her spar-built cell.

Arion scarcely heard the strain,
Her song was lost, her smile was vain,
He had a charm all charms above,
To guard his heart—the charm of love.
He floated on. The morning came,
With lip of dew and cheek of flame;
He looked upon his native shore,
His voyage, his perilous voyage is o'er.
There stood a temple by the sea,
Raised to its queen, Amphitrite:
Arion entered, and kneeling there
He saw a Girl, like spring-day fair,
Feeding with incense the sacred flame,
And he heard her hymn, and it breathed his name.
Oh, Love! a whole life is not worth this bliss—
Eglæ has met her Arion's kiss!—
They raised an altar upon the seashore,
And every spring they cover'd it o'er
With fruits of the wood and flowers of the field,
And the richest perfumes that the East could yield;
And as the waves rolled, they knelt by the side,
And poured their hymn to the Queen of the Tide.

L. E. L.

  1. This poem appears in The Improvisatrice and Other Poems (1824)