Landon in The Literary Gazette 1823/A Maniac visited by his Family in confinement

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Poems (1823)
by Letitia Elizabeth Landon
A Maniac visited by his Family in confinement: by Davis.
2252353PoemsA Maniac visited by his Family in confinement: by Davis.1823Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Literary Gazette, 5th April 1823, Page 219

[To be continued occasionally.]
A Maniac visited by his Family in confinement:
by Davis.

His arms are bound with iron, though they look
Weak as a child's, for they are thin and withered,
And the large veins seem drained. Upon his cheek
Is scarcely left one single hue of life,
So gaunt, so ghastly, and the fierce dark eyes,
Set in their vacancy, scowl from beneath
The shaggy eye-brows like the lightning fires
Sent out from the grey cloud. For many years
His bed has been upon that cold stone floor—
It is worn with the pressure of his limbs.
For many years he has not breathed the air,
The wholesome open air; the sun, the moon,
The stars, the clouds, the fair blue heaven, the spring,
The flowers, the trees, and the sweet face of man,
Song, or words yet more musical than song,
Affections, feelings, social intercourse
(Unless remembered in his fairy dreams)
Have all been strangers to his solitude!—
A curse is set on him, like poverty,
Or leprosy, or the red plague, but worse,—
The heart has sent its fire up to the brain,
And he is mad. What can have made this wreck?
He was once young and beautiful, and brave,
Trusting, as noble spirits ever are,
And he was wronged, betrayed, tortured, deceived,
Heard calumny come from the lips of friends
Whom he had served, lost riches by false tongues;
But that he might have borne,—till she he lov'd,
The mother of his children, left his roof
With one who owed him life and home, yet paid
His blessing with a curse! Then he grew mad,
And was chained down upon a dungeon-floor,—
A heart-sick, solitary wretch!—
There are sweet faces bending near his own:
A pale girl, beautiful as innocence!
With white hands clasped in pity and in prayer,
The daughter of the Maniac, who has come
In the vain vain hope that red insanity
Will feel the influence of her soothing voice.
And two fair boys are with her: one who clings
Around his brother, panting with the fear

Of simple childhood, while the other's eyes
Have less of dread than sorrow. Still no looks
Of love or memory from their father comes;
He sits with clenching teeth and grasping hands,
Regardless of the gentle pity
Which even the dark jailor, whose harsh brow
Has no lines of compassion, even he
Feels, almost moved to sadness! L. E. L.