Landon in The Literary Gazette 1824/Infidelity

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For works with similar titles, see Poetic Sketches (L. E. L.).

Literary Gazette, 24th July, 1824, Pages 475


ORIGINAL POETRY.
POETIC SKETCHES.
Fifth Series.— Sketch the Second.
INFIDELITY.

And in that Castle was a pictured hall,
Filled with all shapes of loveliness; and there.
When the pale moon shone with her sweetest light,
I saw three telling the same tale of love—
I have remembered it. - - -

——————————

There were three lovely pictures. In the first
Is an Italian scene of summer beauty:
In the back-ground a vineyard, poplar stems
Supporting the thick grapes which stretch across
From each tree to the next in rich festoons
Of green and purple drapery. Far behind
A river loses itself amid green hills;
And on its banks there stands a hunter youth:
White plumes are in the cap, which only press
On one side his dark curls. The graceful boy
Has one hand raised to the blue sky above,
As calling the fair sun to hear his words
And witness to their truth; and his bright eyes
Are filled with passionate eloquence, and gaze
On the soft eyes that now are fixed on his
Oh! so undoubtingly!—and there it seems
As he had paused in his full tide of vows
To look upon her as she looks on him,
Until the very colour of their eyes
Blend together: her soft blue orbs catch
The darkness of that youth's, and his become
Filled with the gentle hue and light of hers.
The girl is beautiful: hair, like the stream
Of sunshine flung o'er snow, is on her brow;
Upon the cheek a blush shines, delicate
As the first break of morning; and the wind,
Amid a thousand roses, never kiss'd
One fresher than her lip. And there they stand—
Young, loved, and lovely. Surely there is truth
And happiness with them! - - -

    Now for the second picture. She is there—
That young and radiant beauty!—but how changed!—
Sorrow can do the work of years, and love
Is the heart's worst of sorrows! On her brow
How much has misery graved! Her cheek is flushed
With bitter weeping, and the tears yet shine
Upon the darkened lash! She stands beneath
The shadow of a large old cedar-tree,
Whose branches hang above the stream like night,
Scattering a letter's fragments; yet one part
Is in her hand, that cannot let it go—

There is his name upon that last dear line.
Her head is turned away from it. You feel
One moment more it will be with the rest.
Around the cedar-tree are cypresses,
Making a solitude with their dark boughs,
Just fit for slighted love;—there it might weep
With silence and with shade, in unison
With its o'ershadowed hopes and wounded heart.
Oh, the deep penalty of happiness!—
At least of woman's happiness. Young love,
Alas! for the fond heart that yields to thee,
Borne on by feelings, gushing like sweet waters
Amid hope’s gardens of the rose, at first
Thro’ the green banks of confidence, to end
In the red desart, there to waste away,
And be no more remembered. Is not this,
Bewitching and false Love, the destiny
Of those that trust in thee?—Beyond the shade
Of the dark cypress is the self-same scene
As in the other picture—the blue sky,
Glorious in sunlight; the same green clad hills;
And the bright river, which seems to rejoice
At having pass'd the black cedar. In the midst
Of the glad landscape is a gallant band—
A bridal company. The bride is there:
White roses bind her veil and pearl-wreathed hair,
Thro' which her changing colour, like a star
Upon the twilight verge, glances tremulous.
And by her side there is that hunter youth—

Is he the bridegroom?—ah! that tells the tale!
The common history of trusting love—
Neglect and change. - - -

    In the last picture is no sunny sky—
No landscape, with its grapes and leaves and flowers
Revelling in summer, but a convent cell—
With its dim grating, and its crucifix
Beside the skull and hour-glass. And here lies
Upon the pallet the false hunter's love.
Death has most awful lessons! It is sad,
Aye, strange, to see even the aged die;
But about youth there is a confidence
In life, that makes it terrible. But here,
Fear is forgot in sorrow; and the heart
Goes back to the fair girl and her first dreams
Of hope and happiness, the purple flowers
Springing beneath the rainbow-light of love
Into such luxury! Then comes the change—
From utter confidence, to just a thought
There is a shade of coldness; then the pulse,
Awakening to the torture of distrust,
The hope that clings to the least glimpse of blue
Amid a sky of murkiness; the fear
That sickens at itself; the fond deceit,
That will not see the truth; the tenderness,
That only asks to trust; and, at the last,
The knowledge we have known in vain so long
Comes like a thunderbolt, and crushes. Then
Loses the blue eye its full azure beauty,
For tears have darkened it; then the young cheek
Fades in the autumn of the heart—despair!
And brow and lip grow sunk and wan, just like
The pale inhabitant of this dim cell.
The sun is setting, and one last red gleam
Is on the sufferer's forehead; and her eyes
Are lighted strangely by it, yet the lids
Droop heavily upon them; and the cheek
And wasted arms wear the cold marble hue
Of parting life. The painter had just seized
The broken heart's last pulse, and look, and breath.
L. E. L.