Poems of Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L. E. L.) in Forget Me Not, 1824/Ellen

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2239853Poems of Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L. E. L.) in Forget Me Not, 1824Ellen1824Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Forget Me Not; a Christmas and New
Year's Present for 1824.
London. 12mo.
pp.390. Ackerman.

. . . . to its German archetypes. It contains
several beautiful pieces of poetry
from the pens of Montgomery, Bernard
Barton, and some anonymous contributors.
One of these last we will extract[1]:

Ellen. A Fragment.

Is she not beautiful, although so pale?
The first May flowers are not more colourless
Than her white cheek; yet I recal the time
When she was called the rosebud of our village.
There was a blush, half modesty, half health,
Upon her cheek, fresh as the summer morn
With which she rose. A cloud of chesnut curls,
Like twilight, darkened o’er her blue-veined brow;
And through their hazel curtains, eyes, whose light
Was like the violet’s, when April skies
Have given their own pure colour to the leaves,
Shone sweet and silent, as the twilight star.
And she was happy—innocence and hope
Make the young heart a paradise for love.
And she loved, and was loved. The youth was one
That dwelled on the waters. He had been
Where sweeps the blue Atlantic, a wide world—
Had seen the sun light up the flowers, like gems,
In the bright Indian isles—had breathed the air
When sweet with cinnamon, and gum, and spice.

But he said that no air brought health, or balm,
Like that on his own hills, when it had swept
O'er orchards in their bloom, or hedges, where
Blossomed the hawthorn and the honeysuckle;
That, but one voyage more, and he would come
To his dear Ellen and her cottage home—
Dwell there in love and peace. And then he kissed
Her tears away, talked of the pleasant years
Which they should pass together—of the pride
He would take in his constancy. Oh, hope
Is very eloquent! and as the hours
Pass’d by their fireside in calm cheerfulness,
Ellen forgot to weep.
At length the time
Of parting came; ’twas the first month of Spring.
Like a green fan spread the horse-chesnut’s leaves,
A shower of yellow bloom was on the elm,
The daisies shone like silver, and the boughs
Were covered with their blossoms, and the sky
Was like an augury of hope, so clear,
So beautifully blue. Love! oh young love!
Why hast thou not security? Thou art
Like a bright river, on whose course the weeds
Are thick and heavy; briers are on its banks,
And jagged stones and rocks are mid its waves.
Conscious of its own beauty, it will rush
Over its many obstacles, and pant
For some green valley, as its quiet home.
Alas! either it rushes with a desperate leap
Over its barriers, foaming passionate,
But prisoned still; or winding languidly,
Becomes dark, like oblivion, or else wastes
Itself away—This is love‘s history.

    They parted one spring evening; the green sea
Had scarce a curl upon its wave; the ship

Rode like a queen of ocean. Ellen wept,
But not disconsolate, for she had hope.
She knew not then the bitterness of tears.
But night closed in; and with the night there came
Tempest upon the wind, the beacon light
Glared like a funeral pile; all else was black
And terrible as death. We heard a sound
Come from the ocean—one lone signal gun,
Asking for help in vain—followed by shrieks,
Mocked by the ravening gale; then deepest silence.
Some gallant souls had perished. With the first
Dim light of morn, they sought the beach; and there
Lay fragments of a ship, and human shapes,
Ghastly and gashed. But the worst sight of all—
The sight of living misery, met their gaze.
Seated upon a rock, drenched by the rain,
Her hair torn by the wind, there Ellen sat,
Pale, motionless. How could love guide her there?
A corpse lay by her; in her arms its head
Found a fond pillow, and o‘er it she watched,
As the young mother watches her first child.
It was her lover— L. E. L.

Contextual image of plate from Forget Me Not

E. F. Burney del.W. T. Fry sculp.


  1. This reviewer was probably still unaware of L. E. L.'s identity.