Poems of Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L. E. L.) in The Literary Souvenir, 1831/The Maiden Astrologer

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Poems of Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L. E. L.) in The Literary Souvenir, 1831  (1830)  by Letitia Elizabeth Landon
The Maiden Astrologer

The Maiden Astrologer.png


Painted by W. BoxallEngraved by E. Finden


Her thoughts were not like girlhood's; bird nor flower
Gave her affection room; and when her face
Assumed its perfect beauty, never blush
Nor smile spoke vanity or love; her hours were passed
In some old window-seat, whose coloured panes
Shed a mysterious light upon the scroll,
On whose strange characters she pored; the night
Still found her on the terrace, her dark eyes
Filled with the wild light of the stars she watched,—

They say, she read their language.

Over the terrace the bright stars shine,
Who is there but must feel them divine?
Softly the night wind stirs the air,
The breath of the orange and rose they bear;
And the branches in music swing to and fro,
Each leaf like a lute-note, sweet and low.

This is a night for the maiden to dream
Of the love which will colour her life's pure stream;—
This is a night for the maiden to pray,
Whose heart has been given, whose love is away!
Young is the maiden that watches the sky,
There is no love on her cheek, or her eye.—

Love doth colour the young cheek with rose,
Like the tide in the moonshine, it ebbs and flows.—
Now passionate pale—now fain to hide
The sudden rush of its crimson tide;
But the lady's cheek is calm and pale,
It wears no blushes, it needs no veil.—

Love doth teach the young eye to seek
The shade of the lash, downcast on the cheek,—
Its darkness is brightened by gentle tears,
Its splendour is softened by tender fears;
But the lady's eye is stedfast and bright,
And its depths are solemn as those of the night.

Her beauty is that of a statue's face,
A calm, serene, and spiritual grace;
The mind on her lofty brow is bright
With a power that speaks not of earthly light;
And her raven locks o'er her white neck flow;
No throbbing pulse ever warmed its snow.

From an ancient line was the maiden sprung,
Haughty in deed, and daring in tongue,
She was as proud and as bold as the rest,
Though her spirit was turned to a higher quest,
Still the pride of her race was the only tie
That came between her soul and the sky.

She raised her voice, it was low and sweet,
Yet the wind sank down, as hushed at her feet;—
She drew around her a mystic line,
She named a name, and she signed a sign;—
At once to her charmed vision was given
The secrets the bright stars write upon heaven.

On her curved red lip was no sign of fear,
Though the phantom of future days drew near:
She watched, and saw a glorious band,
Spurs on the heel and swords in the hand;

And a 'broidered banner swept the space,—
She saw it was wrought with the crest of her race!

She saw a noble city arise—
Tower and temple darkened the skies:
Then gallant and stately warriors passed,
Till throne and coronet rose at last.
One chieftain stepped his comrades before,—
He was of her race,—she asked no more.

Calmly she folded her arms on her breast,
As if disdaining the pride she repressed;
Perhaps 't was the mournful midnight that stole
In sadness unwonted over her soul.
Dark the clouds gathered upon the gale,
Whose sound was less of triumph than wail.

Next day, her kinsmen in counsel met—
Deep was the cast on that council set—
And they paused till the lady came to the board,
And her words like the red wine their spirit poured.
"On! on!" she said, "with a dauntless brow,
The star of the Medici's dominant now."

Her spirit passed in its earnest words,
As the harp that breaks from its over-wrought chords.
Her kinsmen went forth in pride and power,
Florence was theirs ere the evening hour;
But the day of triumph was that of doom,
And their war-trumpets rang o'er their Sybil's tomb.
L. E. L.