1829 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Caroline Norton

Letitia Elizabeth Landon, "Lines to the Author after reading The Sorrows of Rosalie" The Literary Gazette (31 January 1829) 76.



They tell me, lady, that thy face
Is as an angel's fair,
That tenderness is all the trace
Of earth thy features wear;
That we might hold thee seraph still,
But sighs with smiles unite,
And that thy large dark eyes will fill
With tears as well as light.

They tell me that thy wit when gay
Will turn to sad again—
The likeness of the lightning ray,
That melts in summer rain;
And that the magic of thy words
Is even as thy song—
The sweetness of the sea-shell chords
The night-winds bear along.

I well believe all they can say
Of fairy charm is thine—
My lips are murmuring now thy lay,
My tears on thy last line:
I've drank the music, sweet and low,
Waked by thy graceful hand;
I must speak of thee — I am now
"Beneath the enchanter's wand."

I dream thee beautiful and bright,
Amid the festal crowd,
With lip and eye of flashing light,
Thy own self disavowed.
They see the loveliness that burns,
The splendour round the shrine—
But not the poet-soul which turns
Thy nature to divine.

I dream thee in thy lonely hour,
Thy long dark hair unbound,
The braiding pearl, the wreathing flower,
Flung careless on the ground;
The crimson eager on thy cheek,
The light dark in thine eye—
While from thy parted lips there break
Sweet sounds, half song, half sigh.

A tale of feminine fond love,
The tender and the tried,
The heart's sweet faith, which looks above,
Long after hope has died.
Even as the Spring comes to the rose,
And flings its leaves apart,
So what should woman's hand unclose?—
The page of woman's heart.

The song is sad which thou hast sung:
Is sad! — how canst thou know
The loved, the lovely, and the young—
A single touch of wo.
Ah, yes! the fire is in thy breast,
The seal upon thy brow,
Life has no calm, no listless rest,
For such a one as thou;—

Thou, blending in thy harp and heart
The passionate, the wild,
The softness of the woman's part,
The sweetness of the child;
With feelings like the fine lute-strings,
A single touch will break;
With hopes that wear an angel's wings,
And make the heaven they seek.

The stern, the selfish, and the cold,
With feelings all represt—
The many cast in one base mould,
For them life yields her best:
They plod upon one even way,
Till time, not life, is o'er;
Death cannot make them colder clay
Than what they were before.

But thou — go ask thy lute what fate
May for thy future be,
And it will tell thee tears await
The path of one like thee:
Too sensitive, like early flowers,
One unkind breath to bear,
What in this weary world of ours,
But tears can be thy share?

Yet little would I that such words
Of prophecy were sooth;
I am so used to mournful chords,
To me they sound like truth.
And if Fate have one stainless leaf,
That page to thee belong:
Sweet lady, only dream of grief,
And let the dream be song.

I pity those who sigh for thee,
I envy those who love;
For loved thy nature's formed to be,
As seraphs' are above.
I fling thee laurel offerings,
I own thy spirit's spell,
I greet the music of thy strings—
Sweet lady, fare thee well.