Juliet After The Masquerade. By Thompson

Letitia Elizabeth Landon 1802 (Chelsea) – 1838 (Cape Coast)

SHE left the festival, for it seem'd dim
Now that her eye no longer dwelt on him,
And sought her chamber,--gazed, (then turn'd away),
Upon a mirror that before her lay,
Half fearing, half believing her sweet face
Would surely claim within his memory place.
The hour was late, and that night her light foot
Had been the constant echo of the lute;
Yet sought she not her pillow, the cool air
Came from the casement, and it lured her there.
The terrace was beneath, and the pale moon
Shone o'er the couch which she had press'd at noon,
Soft-lingering o'er some minstrel's love-lorn page,--
Alas, tears are the poet's heritage!

She flung her on that couch, but not for sleep;
No, it was only that the wind might steep
Her fever'd lip in its delicious dew:
Her brow was burning, and aside she threw
Her cap and plume, and, loosen'd from its fold,
Came o'er her neck and face a shower of gold,
A thousand curls. It was a solitude
Made for young hearts in love's first dreaming mood:--
Beneath the garden lay, fill'd with rose-trees
Whose sighings came like passion on the breeze.

Two graceful statues of the Parian stone
So finely shaped, that as the moonlight shone
The breath of life seem'd to their beauty given,
But less the life of earth than that of heaven.
'Twas PSYCHE and her boy-god, so divine
They turn'd the terrace to an idol shrine,
With its white vases and their summer share
Of flowers, like altars raised to that sweet pair.

And there the maiden leant, still in her ear
The whisper dwelt of that young cavalier;
It was no fancy, he had named the name
Of love, and at that thought her cheek grew flame:
It was the first time her young ear had heard
A lover's burning sigh, or silver word;
Her thoughts were all confusion, but most sweet,--
Her heart beat high, but pleasant was its beat.

She murmur'd over many a snatch of song
That might to her own feelings now belong;
She thought upon old histories she had read,
And placed herself in each high heroine's stead,
Then woke her lute,--oh! there is little known
Of music's power till aided by love's own.
And this is happiness: oh! love will last
When all that made it happiness is past,--
When all its hopes are as the glittering toys
Time present offers, time to come destroys,--
When they have been too often crush'd to earth,
For further blindness to their little worth,--
When fond illusions have dropt one by one,
Like pearls from a rich carkanet, till none
Are left upon life's soil'd and naked string,--
And this is all what time will ever bring.

--And that fair girl,--what can the heart foresee
Of her young love, and of its destiny?
There is a white cloud o'er the moon, its form
Is very light, and yet there sleeps the storm;
It is an omen, it may tell the fate
Of love known all too soon, repented all too late.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Letitia Elizabeth Landon was an English poet. Born 14th August 1802 at 25 Hans Place, Chelsea, she lived through the most productive period of her life nearby, at No.22. A precocious child with a natural gift for poetry, she was driven by the financial needs of her family to become a professional writer and thus a target for malicious gossip (although her three children by William Jerdan were successfully hidden from the public). In 1838, she married George Maclean, governor of Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast, whence she travelled, only to die a few months later (15th October) of a fatal heart condition. Behind her post-Romantic style of sentimentality lie preoccupations with art, decay and loss that give her poetry its characteristic intensity and in this vein she attempted to reinterpret some of the great male texts from a woman’s perspective. Her originality rapidly led to her being one of the most read authors of her day and her influence, commencing with Tennyson in England and Poe in America, was long-lasting. However, Victorian attitudes led to her poetry being misrepresented and she became excluded from the canon of English literature, where she belongs. more…

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