1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Letitia Elizabeth Landon

An Englishwoman, "To the Improvisatrice" The New Times (7 April 1825).



Oh Lady! thou hast painted well
This mighty charm, life's master spell!
And thou hast lov'd as few can love—
As only minds like thine can prove.
But was it well with so much skill
All that the tender heart can fill
Of thy own sex, thus open to display?
Hast thou not rather to the garish day
Expos'd too much what woman's heart
Feels, but conceals with nicest art?
Oh hast thou not to vulgar eyes,
Those delicate refinements shewn,
By virtue, taste, and genius thrown,
O'er all belov'd, but never known
To minds of common mould?
To breasts where no soft sympathies
Find place, those sentiments reveal'd
Which from herself she keeps conceal'd—
Joys priz'd — but never told?
Her inmost feelings, all expos'd,
And rais'd the veil 'neath which repos'd
The treasures of her tenderness?
Oh! in her bosom's deep recess,
From all, e'en that beloved one;
From all, save that great Pow'r above
Who form'd the heart, and bid it love
Should the soft springs that round it move
Be hid in closest prise,
Love flies from stranger eyes.
Nor more impatient is the wing
Of the gay insect — pride of Spring,
To the rude touch of wayward child
That fierce pursues its beauties brief,
Than woman's love, — where love indeed is known.
Not quicker shrinks from hand more mild,
That gentle plant's retiring leaf,
Than the fond heart from idle view
Which tender, delicate, and true
Centres its hopes, and beats for one alone.
To silence must its fears, its best delights be giv'n,
And, pure as love's own source, no witness know but Heav'n.