Poems of Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L. E. L.) in Heath’s Book of Beauty, 1833/Gulnare

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Painted by Miss L. SharpeEngraved by H. T. Ryall


Oh, never more the flowers will stoop
    Beneath her fairy feet;
The myrtle with its bloom may droop,
    But not above her seat;
And no more will that fountain glass
    The image of Gulnare—
How softly would that shadow pass
    When noon was shining there!

How well the echoes used to know
    The music of her lute!
The wind amid the leaves may blow,
    But those sweet tones are mute.
The place is now an alter'd place,
    And not what it has been;—
It was the beauty of her face
    Gave beauty to the scene.

Why did her eye in pity dwell
    Upon that English knight,
The prisoner of the buried cell
    Where day forgot its light?
It is a weary thing to lie
    With weak and fetter'd hand,
While youth's brave time is passing by,
    And rust creeps o'er the brand.

'Twas in the still night's silent hours,
    The captive dreaming lay
Of his own old ancestral towers.
    His mother far away.
He heard a step—a low, hush'd breath—
    A sweet brow o'er him shone,
As even by the bed of death
    Might shine an angel one.

She bound his wounds, she gave him food,
    With odours and red wine;
And from a dreary solitude
    That cell became a shrine.
She came there once—she came there twice—
    The third time he was free:
She listen'd not her heart's advice,
    Though weak that heart might be:

But to the lover's gentle prayer
    Her pale lip still replied,
"I may not, for a stranger's care,
    Forsake my father's side."

Her hair hung down below her knee,
    Though loop'd with orient pearl;
He pray'd her of her courtesy
    To give him one dark curl.

"Mid friend and foe, mid weal and wo,
    This soft braid I'll retain;
And lady's favour, for thy sake,
    I'll never wear again."
She would not let him see her tears—
    A time would come to weep:
Alas for young and wasted years
    That one remembrance keep!

Ah! soon grief wears away the rose
    From any youthful cheek,
And soon the weary eyes will close
    Which hope not what they seek:
When dreams bring that loved face by night
    We never see by day,
Then the heart sickens at the light,
    And the look turns away.

There are some roses droop and die,
    While others bloom so fair—
Gone with their first and sweetest sigh:
    So was it with Gulnare.
Alas! the Earth hides many flowers
    Within her silent breast;
But could she not have spared us ours—
    Our dearest and our best?

Within the City of the Dead
    The maiden hath her home;
There are the dews of evening shed,
    And there the night-winds come.
Oh, Cypress! whose dark column waves,
    Nursed by the mourner's tear,
Thy shadow falls on many graves,
    But not on one so dear!