Landon in The Literary Gazette 1822/Mr. Martin’s Picture of Clytie

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For works with similar titles, see Poetic Sketches (L. E. L.).
by Letitia Elizabeth Landon
Second Series. Poetic Sketches. Sketch the Fifth. Mr. Martin’s Picture of Clytie
2238300Poems — Second Series. Poetic Sketches. Sketch the Fifth. Mr. Martin’s Picture of ClytieLetitia Elizabeth Landon


Literary Gazette, 1st June, 1822, Pages 346-347



Second Series — Sketch the Fifth.


These are thy graceful memories, the dreams
That hallowed thy groves, and over things
Inanimate shed visionary life,
When every flower had some romantic tale
Linked with its sweetness, when the winds, the streams
Breathed poetry and love. ---

It was a beautiful embodied thought,
A dream of the fine painter, one of those
That pass by moonlight o'er the soul, and flit
'Mid the dim shades of twilight, when the eye
Grows tearful with its ecstasy. There stood
A dark haired Grecian girl, whose eyes were raised,
With that soft look love teaches, to the sky—
One hand pressed to her brow, as she would gaze
Upon the sun undazzled—'twas that nymph,
The slighted Clytie. May minstrel look

Upon the sweet creation, and not feel
Its influence on the heart? Now listen, love,
I’ll tell thee of her history: she was
Amid those lovely ones that walk the earth
Like visions all of heaven, or but made
The more divine by earthly tenderness;
One of the maiden choir, that every morn,
From lips of dew and odours, to the sun
Hymned early welcome. 'Twas one summer eve,
And the white columns and the marble floor
In the proud temple of Day's deity
Were flooded o'er with crimson, and the air
Was rich with scents; it was Clytie's turn
To watch the perfumed flame; she sat and waked
Her silver lute with one of those sweet songs
Breathed by young poets when their mistress' kiss
Has been their inspiration. Suddenly
Some other music echoed her own,
Faint, but most exquisite, like those low tones
That winds of summer sigh in the sea shells;
It died in melting cadences, but still
Clytie bent to hear it—Could it be
A dream, a strange wild dream? There stood a Youth
More beautiful than summer by her side!
His bright hair floated down like Indian gold,
A light played in his curls, and his dark eyes
Flashed splendour too intense for human gaze;
A wreath of laurel was upon the lyre
His graceful hand sustained, and by his side
The sparkling arrows hung. It was the god
That guides the sun's blue race, the god of light,
Of song, who left his native heaven for one
More precious far—the heaven of woman's love. - -

- - They met no more, but still that glorious shape
Haunted her visions; life to her was changed;
Gaiety, hope, and happiness, were all
Centered in one deep thought. The time had been,
When never smile was sunnier than her's,
No step more buoyant, and no song more glad:
All, all was changed; she fled to solitude,
And poured her wild complainings to the groves,
And Echo answered—Echo, that, like her,
Had pined with ill-starred love! Oh never, never
Had love a temple like a woman's heart!
She will serve so devotedly, will give
Youth, beauty, health, in sacrifice; will be
So very faithful!—without hope to cheer,
Or tenderness to soothe, her love yet will
Continue unto death. Clytie dwelt
On that once cherished memory; she would gaze
For hours upon the sky, and watch the sun;
And when the pale light faded from the west,
Would weep till morning. Is it not just thus
In that fine semblance, where the painter's touch
Has bodied forth her beauty and her sorrow
That she is pictured with a sad soft smile,
Turned to the azure home of her heart's god?
A fresh green landscape round, just like those groves,
The Grecian groves, where she was wont to roam.
- - - Look, dear, upon that flower—'tis hallowed
By the remembrance of unhappy love,
'Tis sacred to the slighted Clytie;
Look, how it turns its bosom to the sun.
And when dark clouds have shadowed it, or night
Is on the sky, mark how it folds its leaves,
And droops its head, and weeps sweet tears of dew,
The constant Sun-flower. L. E. L.

  1. This is Landon’s first direct link to an artwork. A search under Mr Martin Clytie will bring up several images of this painting.
  2. For note on formatting of these first seven lines, see note at end of next poem on 8th June, 1822.