Landon in The Literary Gazette 1824/Sisters

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For other versions of this work, see The Sisters (L. E. L.).
For works with similar titles, see The Sisters.
Poems  (1824)  by Letitia Elizabeth Landon
Metrical Tales. III. - The Sisters.

Literary Gazette, 13th March, 1824, Pages 170-171


ORIGINAL POETRY.
METRICAL TALES.
Tale III.—THE SISTERS.[1]

Now, Maiden, wilt thou come with me,
Far over yonder moonlight sea?
There's not a cloud upon the sky,
The wind is low like thine own sigh;
The azure heaven is veined with light,
The water is as calm and bright
As I have sometimes seen it lie
Beneath a sunny Indian sky.
My bark is on the ocean riding,
Like a spirit o'er it gliding:
Maiden, wilt thou come—and be
Queen of my fair ship and me?
    She followed him. The sweet night breeze
Brought odours from the orange trees,—
She paused not for that fragrancy:[2]
There came a sound of music nigh,
A voice of song, a distant chime
To mark the vespers' starry time,—
She heard it not: the moonbeams fell
O'er vine-wreathed hill and olive dell,

With cottages, and their gay show
Of roses for a portico;
One which stood by a beech alone,—
Looked she not back upon that one?
Alas! she looked but in that eye
Where now was writ her destiny.
The heart love leaves looks back ever;
The heart where he is dwelling, never.
Yet as her last step left the strand,
Gheraldi then might feel her hand
Grow cold, and tremble in his own:
He watched her lip, its smile was flown;
Her cheek was pale, as if with fears;
Her blue eyes darkened with their tears:
He prest her rosebud mouth to his,
Blush, smile, returned to grace that kiss;
She had not power to weep, yet know
She was his own, come weal come woe.
Oh, who—reposed on some fond breast,
Love's own delicious place of rest—
Reading faith in the watching eyes,
Feeling the heart beat with its sighs,
Could know regrets, or doubts, or cares,
That we had bound our fate to theirs![3]
    There was a shadow on their mirth;
A vacant place is by their hearth,
When at the purple evening's close
Around its firelight gathered those
With whom her youth's sweet course had run,
Wept, for the lost, the altered one!
She was so beautiful, so dear,
All that the heart holds precious here!
A skylark voice, whose lightest sound
So glad made evey heart-pulse bound!
'Twas a fair sight to see her glide
A constant shadow by the side
Of her old Father! At day-rise,
With light feet and with sunny eyes,
Busy within: and then, at times,
Singing old snatches of wild rhymes
Italian peasants treasure up,
O'erflowings of the poet's cup,
Suited to those whose earth and sky,
Temples and groves, are poetry.
And then at eve, her raven hair
Braided upon a brow as fair
As are the snowy chestnut flowers
When blooming in the first spring hours,
She sat beneath the old beech tree,
Her mandolin upon her knee.

But Blanche was gone, and guilt and shame
Made harsh the music of her name.
—But he had yet another child,—
The Father Blanche could leave,—who smiled
Gently and cheerfully away
The cloud that on his spirit lay.
    It was a lovely morn in June,
And in the rosy light of noon
The olive crowned village shone
As the glad sun were all its own;
And, suiting with such golden hours,
With music, and with songs and flowers,
A bridal train pass'd gaily by:
In the midst, with blue downcast eye
And blush of happiness, came the Bride!
And youths with flutes were by her side,
And maidens, with their wreaths, as gay
As life but lasted one sweet day.
    One followed them with bursting heart,
With pallid cheek, and lips apart,
As every breath were gasped! Ah this,
Alas, is what love ever is!
False or unhappy, twin to sorrow,
Forced Hope's deceiving lights to borrow,
Gilding in joy a little way,
Doubly to lead the heart astray.
Beneath a shadowy beech tree
At length paused the gay company:
And there sat an old Man. The Bride
Took off her veil, and knelt beside,
And from his feet looked up and smiled,
And prayed that he would bless his child!
The gentle prayer was scarcely said,
Yet lay his hand upon her head!
When knelt another in that place,
With shrouded form and veiled face;
A broken voice breath'd some low words,
They struck on memory's tenderest chords:

"My Blanche! yes, only ask of Heaven,
Thy father has long since forgiven.
Look up!" "Oh not till thou hast pray'd
For the unhappy and betrayed!"
And paused at once the bridal song,
And gathered round the gazing throng.
And as the old man prayed, Blanche prest
Closer and closer to his breast!
He raised her, for he longed to gaze
Upon the loved of other days,
And threw the veil back from her head,
And looked,—but looked upon the dead!

L. E. L.

  1. This poem appears in The Vow of the Peacock and Other Poems (1835)
  2. The vow of the Peacock version has 'for their fragrant sigh:'
  3. The Vow of the Peacock version has 'with theirs'