The Lily of the Valley

"A fair young face—yet mournful in its youth—
Brooding above sad thoughts."


It is the last token of love and of thee!
Thy once faith is broken, thou false one to me.
I think on the letters with which I must part;
Too dear are the fetters which wind round my heart.

Thy words were enchanted—and ruled me at will;
My spirit is haunted, remembering them still.
So earnest, so tender—the full heart was there;
Ah! song might surrender its lute in despair.

I deemed that I knew thee as none ever knew;
That 'twas mine to subdue thee, and thine to be true.
I deemed to my keeping thy memory had brought
The depths that were sleeping of innermost thought.

The bitter concealings life’s treacheries teach,
The long-subdued feelings the world cannot reach—
Thy mask to the many was worn not for me;
I saw thee—can any seem like unto thee?

No other can know thee as I, love, have known;
No future will show thee a love like mine own.
That love was no passion that walketh by day,
A fancy—a fashion that flitteth away.

’Twas life’s whole emotion—a storm in its might—
’Twas deep as the ocean, and silent as night.
It swept down life’s flowers, the fragile and fair,
The heart had no powers from passion to spare.

Thy faults but endear’d thee, so stormy and wild;
My lover! I fear’d thee as feareth a child.
They seemed but the shrouding of spirit too high,
As vapours come crowding the sunniest sky.

I worshipped in terror a comet above;
Ah! fatal the error—ah! fatal the love!
For thy sake life never will charm me again;
Its beauty forever is vanish’d and vain.

Thou canst not restore me the depth and the truth
Of the hopes that came o’er me in earliest youth.
Their gloss is departed—their magic is flown,
And sad and faint-hearted I wander alone.

’Tis vain to regret me—you will not regret;
You will try to forget me—you cannot forget.
We shall hear of each other—oh! misery to hear
Those names from another that once were so dear!

What slight words will sting us that breathe of the past,
And slight things will bring us thoughts fated to last.
The fond hopes that centred in thee are all dead,
But the iron has enter’d the soul where they fed.

Like others in seeming, we’ll walk through life’s part,
Cold, careless, and dreaming,—with death in the heart.
No hope—no repentance; the spring of life o’er;
All died with that sentence——I love thee no more!
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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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"The Lily of the Valley" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 1 Apr. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/52472/the-lily-of-the-valley>.

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