Poems of Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L. E. L.) in The Literary Souvenir, 1826/Retirement

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It was a stream in Thessaly, the banks
Were solitary, for the cypress trees
Closed o'er the waters; yet at times the wind
Threw back the branches, and then a sunbeam
Flung down a golden gift upon the wave,
And showed its treasures; for the pebbles shone
Like pearls and purple gems, fit emblems they
For the delights that hope holds up to youth,
False in their glittering, and when they lose
The sparkle of the water and the sun,
They are found valueless. Is it not thus
With pleasures, when the freshness and the gloss
That young life threw o'er them has dried away?

    One only flower grew in that lonely place,
The lily, covered with its shadowy leaves,
Even as some Eastern beauty with her veil,

And like the favourite urns of spring; its bells
Held odours that the zephyrs dared not steal.
And by the river was a maiden leant,
With large dark eyes, whose melancholy light
Seemed as born of deep thought which had gone through
Full many a stage of human wretchedness,—
Had known the anxious misery of love,—
The sickness of the hope which pines and dies
From many disappointments,—and the waste
Of feelings in the gay and lighted hall;—
But more, as knowledge grew but from report
Than its own sad experience; for she loved
The shelter of the quiet mountain valley,
The shadow of the scented myrtle grove,
And, more than all, the solitary bend,
Hidden by cypresses, of her own river.—
They called the nymph—Retirement.

L. E. L.