Poems of Letitia Elizabeth Landon in The Literary Souvenir, 1827/Lord Byron

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Poems in The Literary Souvenir, 1827 (1826)
by Letitia Elizabeth Landon
Stanzas. Written beneath the portrait of Lord Byron, painted by Mr. West.
2297528Poems in The Literary Souvenir, 1827Stanzas. Written beneath the portrait of Lord Byron, painted by Mr. West.1826Letitia Elizabeth Landon


III.---The Last Portrait painted of Lord Byron. By
          Francis Engleheart; from an original Picture, by
          W. E. West, in that gentleman's possession..33


Written beneath the portrait of Lord Byron,
painted by Mr. West.

'Tis with strange feelings that I gaze
    Upon this brow of thine,
Magnificent as if the mind
    Herself had carved her shrine:
An altar unto which was given
The flowers of earth, the light of heaven.

At the first glance, that eye is proud,
    But, if I read aright,
A fountain of sweet tears lies hid
    Beneath its flashing light:
Tenderness, like a gushing rill
Subdued, represt, but flowing still.

That lip is curled with sneering smile,—
    Alas! what doth it prove?—
Not in the warfare of the world
    Are lessons taught of love.
So much is there hard to be borne,
The heart must either break or scorn.

And differently the poison works
    On every differing mind,
Some grow false as the false they blamed,
    And thus 'tis with mankind:
But there are some whose loftier mood
Grows maddened on such things to brood.

The young warm heart whose faith and love
    Were all too prompt at first,
What must it feel when these are turned
    To darkness and distrust?
Wormwood to know that heart has been
Dupe of the false, prey of the mean.

Such will not ask for sympathy,
    Knowing they ask in vain,—
Nor yield to softer feelings way
    To be deceived again;
And bitter laugh, and scornful sneer,
Become at once their shield and spear.

Such, methinks, was the destiny
    That threw its chill o'er thee;
Thou hadst mixed with the false, till all
    Seemed but alike to be.
Could not the workings of thine heart
Another, holier creed impart?

I read it in thy gifted page,
    In every noble thought,
Each lofty feeling, and sweet song
    With tenderness deep fraught;
For there thine inmost soul was shown,—
Their truth, their beauty, were thine own.

For out on the vain worldling's speech
    Which saith the poet's skill
But sets forth feelings he has not;
    Worked up, wrought out at will.
What knows he of that sacred feeling?
He hath no part in its revealing.

And if sometimes he is not all
    That his own song has sung,
It is but part of that great curse
    Which still to earth has clung.
Whoe'er has seen, who yet shall see
Himself as he deemed he could be?

The mind can win eternity
    With its immortal name,
But all too often happiness
    Is the price paid for fame:
For not a barbed shaft can fly
But aims to strike the mark on high.

Oh, if there be one sullied page
    Unworthy of thy name,
The weakness of a mighty one,
    To dwell on it were shame;
Were cruelty, when thy fine mind
Has left such nobler store behind.

But thou art with the dead,—thy life
    In such a cause was given,
Most glorious in the sight of man,
    Precious in that of heaven.
Marathon, and Thermopylæ:
Such soil was fitting grave for thee!

Oh, England! to thy young and brave
    Is not this stirring call,
To free the fallen from the chain,
    To break the tyrant's thrall,
His life has not been spent in vain
If Greece shall burst the Moslem chain.
L. E. L.