Landon in The Literary Gazette 1824/Fidelity
Literary Gazette, 17th July, 1824, Pages 460-461
Fifth Series.—Sketch the First.
A self-devotedness in Woman's heart
That has no place in Man's. A man may love—
Aye, yield his life, his fortune, as the Roman
Once gave the world for his Egyptian Queen,
The dark-eyed beauty—but not his the faith;
Gentle, confiding, tried with chance and change,
Yet still the same, vowed to the grave, the absent,
And to the false. There is not one such love!
Yes—Man can leave his heart's religion, turn,
And kneel apostate to some novel creed—
But Woman never.---
There is a low sweet sound of voice and lute
From yonder casement, which the Provence rose
Hides with its thousand flowers; a maiden there
Leans, with the roses clinging round her arms
And neck, as if they loved her: from her lute
Her hand is waking music, and her lips
Almost unconsciously repeat the words
Of some old song, by love and sorrow made
An echo of the heart. ‘Tis a fair scene:
Those silver olive trees, more silvery
As the moonlight shines o'er them; the blue sky,
Which seems to join the old dark wood, and make
The boundary of the quiet world; the vines
Girdling those distant hills; the river hung
With willows, whose green weeping only shows
At intervals the diamond waters, set
With broad leaved lilies and their snow white towers;
Small islands, with their fairy palaces;
And then the lute, the lattice, and the girl,
The white rose, and the melancholy song—
Oh, Night, thy reign is over lovely things!—
A broader shadow is upon the stream
Where yon old castle stands, and melody
Comes forth, rejoicing on the ear of night;
Not one lone lute, but a full gush of sound,
Heard from a thousand instruments: the harp
Sends its rich sweep of music, and wind-horns
Wake like deep voices of the element.
And there are rainbow lamps around the hall,
Shedding a rosy hue upon the pearls
And purple glory on the diamonds
In the dark tresses of the high-born dames,
Who move around like queens; and there are seen
Vases, like silver clouds, whose glimmerings soft
Light alcoves, filled with rare and costly flowers,
The Indian rose, the golden jessamine.
And there the beautiful recline, whose arms
Look snow in the white ray. Around the walls
Hang purple draperies and gorgeous frames,
Each one a picture of long ancestry,
Armed knights, and robed lords, and lovely dames;
And, like their shadows, on the ground beneath
Move knights and ladies, each as fair and proud.
Red wine and golden cups are on the board,
And their gay benison is Amirald's health,
The castle's younger lord. And many an eye
Shed its blue morning on the graceful youth,
And many marvelled at the silent mood
In which he turned away from the bright dance
To listen to some minstrel. Oh, the heart
Knows not the power of music till it loves!—
And Amirald stood lost in gentle thoughts,
Till, like a sigh, the music ceased, and then
Turned softly to a window, and flung back
The crimson curtain, and saw the cold moon
Shine o'er the olive-crested plain beneath:
It was a window that he loved, it looked
Upon the cottage of the white rose tree—
The cottage of his Love. But morning came
To end their revelling. And strange it was,
And something sad, to mark the sudden change:
The dancers gone,—the music, and the lamps
Dying before the cold gray glare of day,—
The silence, solitude, the withered flowers—
Oh! moral of enjoyment!—scattered, crushed:—
The pale checks of the few that staid, like ghosts
Haunting the footsteps of departing mirth,
While the bright pictures over them looked down
Almost in mockery. And Amirald,
Like his guests, left the hall—was it to cool
His fevered brow with the fresh breath of morn?—
His is a hurried step for that. But see,
A fair shape bounds to meet him. ‘Tis his Love—
The same sweet spirit of the last night's lute,
Bright as a spring day, and as beautiful;
The colour of the morning on her cheek,
Her auburn curls flung loose upon the air,
Their only pearls a few clear dew drops, caught
In passing thro’ the roses. Her sweet face
Is lighted up with gladness, and her eyes
Are laughing as her lips; but in their blue,
Their deep, their changeful melancholy blue,
There is a passionate tenderness, too like
Warning or omen of her destiny.
It is not happiness! "See, Amirald, dear—
(She said, as, stretching forth her small white hands,
She showed them full of flowers)—see, I too have
A birth-day offering for you; take my wreath,
‘Tis bright as hope, and try if you can read
Its gentle meanings; or—no, I will be
My flowers' interpreter: This violet,
My Amirald, is like your Eva's fate;
This rose—is it not summer-sweet as love?
And this green myrtle is our constancy."
Within his bosom Amirald hid the buds,
And led the maiden to a little bank
Covered with violets—they were Spring's last.
The chesnut overhead had kept the sun
From wasting their pure lives; and by the side
There was a little brook, whose pebbles shone
Like Indian stones—and there they past the noon.
And day by day thus past, till came a time
For tears, for farewell, and fidelity.
And Amirald sought the court. Oh, then the change,
The contrast, in the spirit of their love!
The one went on his round of gaiety,
The crown'd knight of the tournament, whose helm
Wore every lady's colours as they came:
The troubadour, with song to any vowed;
The cavalier, the gayest of the hall—
And this was Amirald. Now for his Love:
There is a pale girl on that violet bank—
Her bright curls hang neglected , and her cheek—
Has sickness wasted thus its bloom away?
Or is it the heart's withering? She has pined
In that worst of all solitudes—the blank
That comes when love's enchanted world decays
Into reality. She was forgotten—
But she could not forget, nor even reproach.
His name still lingered on her lute, and still
The chain he gave was treasured next her heart.
It was a summer noon—she had beguiled
Time with an old romance; it told how once
A maiden had cut off her long dark hair,
And as a page had with her lover gone
To Palestine, and with her life saved his.
And Eva pondered o'er and o'er the tale,
And thought on the deep happiness, to see,
Perhaps to serve, her Amirald again.
All day she thought upon it, and at night
It was amid her dreams. At last she went
And join'd her faithless love. He knew her not;
But yet she was his favourite—none could tune
The lute with so much tenderness, none sing
So soft a love lay. Twice the Spring had flung
Her gift of bloom and balm upon the wind
Since she was with him; and sometimes she thought
His heart still hers, although he could not break
The chains that pleasure, habit, round him flung—
Perhaps false shame; for, that he would not sue
For pardon, tho' he knew that pardon were
The happiness of both. . . . But, fell at last
A deadly sickness on the city; death
Came like a conqueror; the lover died
By his bride at the altar; upon some
It came down sudden, like the lightning stroke;
On others, slow and wasting, not less deadly.
Amirald sickened, but all fled his couch,
For their flight was from death—but Eva staid
And watched, and soothed, and solaced. ‘Twas one night
For the first time she dared to hope—his hand
Lost its red heat, and he slept quietly.
At last he waked, and waked to consciousness.
With but a dim remembrance of his pain,
And some fair shadow that had by his couch
Watched like the spirit of health, he gazed around,
And saw a boy, a wan and sickly boy,
Kneeling in silent tears before the cross—
And then he knew his Eva's deep blue eyes,
And called upon her name; and, with a cry
Of joy and thankfulness, she sprang beside,
And bowed her pale lips softly on his brow—
That kiss sealed his recovery!
Again the lamps are bright in his old hall!
Again the feast is spread, and music heard!
It is a marriage festival! The bride
Is Eva, and her long fidelity
Has won her Amirald! L. E. L.