Landon in The Literary Gazette 1823/Island

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For works with similar titles, see Poetic Sketches (L. E. L.).
Poems  (1823)  by Letitia Elizabeth Landon
Poetic Sketches. Fourth Series. Sketch V. The Island.

Literary Gazette 13th December 1823, Page 793-794

Fourth Series.


"Adieu, adieu, thou faithless world,
Thou ne’er wert made for me!"

A summer isle, one over which the wind
Hath ever pass'd in melody,—such airs
As are born in the rose's breast, and die
Like singing on the waters. There were lakes,
Some deep and blue, and clear as the bright sky
Mirror'd upon them; others, o'er whose waves
Floated the broad green pennons of the lily;
Some barks for Love, coloured with his own blush,
And others, white as fairy ships, for Hope,—
Ah, Love and Hope should ever go together!—
And in the valleys and beside the hills
(Hills where the landmark was one stately palm)
There grew ten thousand flowers, on whose leaves
Shone every hue that ever yet hath shone
In a king's diadem of Indian gems,
Or in the tints an autumn sunset throws
O'er the rich glaciers in the rainbow arch
Of the departing shower; and butterflies,
Each like a ruby, glistened round the stems;
And birds as brightly feathered, for each wing
Was like wrought tapestry of silk and gold.

And when night came the isle was lighted up
With myriads of glowing natural lamps,
A beautiful green brilliance, which the moon
Veined with pure crystal, and the many stars
Like glories scattered o'er the midnight sky.
    Just in the middle of the sunny Isle,
Lonely and fragrant, stood one graceful tree,
A rose accacia, whose pink boughs were linked
By silver fetters of the jessamine:
Together they had formed a perfumed bower,
A green turf, dropped with violets, the floor.
And there a radiant creature dwelt, a Girl
Lovely as love's first likeness, innocent
As the white antelope, whose large dark eyes,
Or the dove's softer blue ones, gave alone
Her own deep looks of tenderness again.
She dwelt a fairy in a fairy Isle:
Her only knowledge, that she knew the Spring
Brought blossoms, and the Summer fruit; that night
Was beautiful with stars and with the moon;
That the sun rose over the hill of palms,
And sank in the red billows of the sea;
No other language than some soft sweet sounds
She had caught from the voices of the birds
When singing to the morning, and the notes
Sent from the waterfall, when, like a harp,
It held discourse in music with the wind.
 - - - But a tall ship came over the far sea,
And bore the Maiden of the sunny Isle
Away from her sweet home, to other lands.
And there she dwell, 'mid pleasure and surprise,
The loveliest amid the many lovely.
To what may youth's first joyance be compared?
To daylight, and the glad song of the lark
Bursting together,—to a sudden gush
Of perfume, till the giddy senses link
With overmuch delight,—a dream,—a tale,
Of Paradise, told in fair poesy.

Thus pass'd a season; but Ianthe's heart,
Tender and true, confiding, passionate,
Was filled with those warm feelings, which like gold,
Albeit itself so precious, often brings
Misery on the possessor. But to look
On the weak gracefulness of her slight form,
The gentle forehead, the imploring smile
Of the so delicate lip, the tremulous blush,
The full voluptuous darkness of the eyes,
So timid yet so tender,—light and dew,—
To look upon her was to know that love
Would be her destiny. Ianthe loved—
Loved with that womanish idolatry
Which makes a god of the beloved one,
A god for whom no sacrifice is thought
Too great, though life and soul were offered up,—
No worship worthy of the excellence
To which the heart bows down. But happiness,
Though often wooed, is rarely won by love.
Ianthe had to weep the worst of all,—
Ill placed affection.----
    She knew that death was in her heart, and pined
Once more to look upon the sunny Isle.
Not even its sweet healthfulness of air
Might save, but it would soothe; she said her breath
Would pass more freely; when its latest sigh
Had a companion in one from the rose.
Again the tall ship bore her o'er the main.
It was a strange, yet lovely, sight to see
How in the moonlight she would sit and watch
The glorious waters, her black hair unbound
And floating like a sail, heavy and dark,
As if an omen that the voyage was death;
And her large eyes, so very wildly bright,
Her low and melancholy song,— she looked
A spirit, paused one moment on this earth,
To chant a requiem over it.---
    Sail on thy way, thou stately ship,
        Over the deep blue sea,
    Beyond thy waves there is a home,
        A silent home for me!

    It was a place of birds and flowers,
        Of green leaves and sunshine:
    I do hope I shall find no change,
        Sweet Isle! in aught of thine.

    I'll seek again where the pink boughs
        Of the accacia wave,—
    My cradle was beneath their shade,
        And so shall be my grave.

    My spirit could not pass away
        In yon great city's air,
    Even my last sigh would be false,
        For all things are false there.

    I have let fall my red rose wreath,
        Scattered upon the deep,—
    The flowers I had such joy to cull,
        I wished so much to keep.

    There, they are floating far away,
        Over the starlit sea;
    Is it not thus pleasures and hopes
        Have pass'd away from me?

    Well, let them pass; I have a home
        Where pink accacias wave,
    And sweetly will it guard my sleep
        Within the quiet grave!

‘Twas even so: they made the Maiden's grave
Beneath the lone accacia, which became
A shrine by lovers sought to breathe their vows;
And a pale lily or a violet
Gathered from off that tomb, was a love-gift
Beyond all prize, and one that every youth
Offered his mistress, when a blush first owned
She loved him. L. E. L.