1839 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Mrs. Cornwell Baron Wilson, "Elegiac Tribute to the Memory of L. E. L." New Monthly Magazine 55 (January 1839) 194-95.



Only one doom! writ in misfortune's page
For earth's most highly gifted; — does the lyre,
To those who woo it, such a fate presage
To damp the kindling thoughts, that would aspire,
Prometheus-like, to sport with heavenly fire?—
Alas! 'tis even so! — Fame's laurel wreath
Distils its poison on the brow beneath!

Thy grave is made, under a foreign sky,
And in a stranger soil; — thine ashes rest
In a far-distant clime; — no kindred eye
Soften'd thy death-pangs, — saw thy heaving breast
Gasp its last sigh, or caught the fond bequest
Thy murmuring lip had breathed to friends afar;—
Lone was thy setting. Genius' "Polar Star!"
There should have knelt around thee, mourning friends,
With anxious hearts, in that all-fearful hour
When weeping Love in silent prayer ascends
To Heav'n, that it will raise the drooping Flower
(A "broken reed," to save is human power);
And the last murmur of thy parting groan
Should not have pass'd, unheeded and unknown!

Thine should have been a tomb within the aisles
Where "storied urn and animated bust"
Rise to our mighty dead; — where Honour smiles
Above the spot, enshrining Genius' dust!
Where Kingly crowns and Heroes' trophies rust;—
There, among England's gifted, great, and good,
The urn that holds thine ashes should have stood.

This Fate forbids! — but in thy lyric page
Thine epitaph is written; — down the stream
Of gliding years, to many a distant age,
Shall float thy magic numbers; — as a dream,
Haunting the mem'ry with sweet sounds, that seem
Like snatches of some old familiar strain,
Waking fond thoughts of childhood's hours again!

For thou wert Feelings own impassion'd child!
Her girding spells were on thee; — and thy heart
Was as a living lyre, whose chords the wild
Soft breezes kiss'd to music; — forth would start,
At NATURE'S touch (for thou disdainedst ART),
The gushing stream of Song; — the kindling flame
Breathed on by thee, in answering numbers came.

But mute is now that lyre! hush'd as the heart
Whose pulses were its echo; — for the strings
Of both, alas! are broken. — As depart
Day's beams, and o'er the dial twilight flings
The dusky shadow of her brooding wings,
So, from the world, thy lyric light hath pass'd,
And Death has hush'd the Swan's sweet notes at last!
Jan. 4, 1839.