Poetic Sketches. Sketch Sixth

"She had no thought from him apart,
The idol of her seared heart,
The hope of life's lone pilgrimage,
The light, the blessing of her age!
But hope is like the rainbow's form,
Dying in tears and born in storm;
And all must feel what passing flowers
Are joys we deemed most truly ours."

"Alas, life is a weary voyage, made
Mid storms and rocks, with just a sun ray sent
To lure us on and leave us."

Down swept the gathered waters over rocks
Which broke at times the column's foaming line;
Darkening amid the snow-white froth, it swept
Like an all conquering army, and an arch
Of sparkling hues that in the sunbeams played
Seemed to unite it with the sky which hung
Above all calmness and repose: The blue
Ethereal, soft and stainless, well beseemed
A heaven we deem the dwelling-place of peace:
Downwards it rushed; the tall green pines, that hung
Upon the cliffs beside, were covered o'er
With silver spray: there stood those stately trees,
Braving the furious storm, as the proud sons
Of Greece, when Greece was glorious, stood and braved
The tyrant's menace and defied the yoke.
It reached the plain below; a crystal lake
Became its dwelling, where the dimpling wave
Had lost all memory of its former strife:
The willows grew around, and that pale flower
The water-lily floated on its face,
The halcyon plumed his azure wings, nor feared
A coming storm, and in the midst an isle
Rose like a blest shrine to the guardian power
Of that sweet scene. It was a little spot
Shaded by gloomy firs and lighter birch:
Here the wild strawberry shed its first white blossoms,
And the dove built her nest, while the soft gale,
Sighing amid the graceful larches, gave
The only answer to her murmurings.—
Two once dwelt here, a Mother and her Child:
She was a widow, and had deeply drank
The cup of bitterness. But woman bears
The storm man shrinks from unrepiningly.
At length the one to whom her love had been
A light mid darkness died, and she was left
In coldness and unkindness: but one link
Still bound her to this earth; there was a smile
Bore gladness to her wounded heart, a voice
Of joy and consolation, one who made
Life very precious to her—the young bird,
Her own sweet nestling, yet too young to know
What clouds hung o'er him.—Quiet came at last;
The mourner found a little lone retreat
Where she might rest her weary feet—this isle
Became her home. Her child grew up
A hope and blessing to her:—she was proud
To hear that when he joined his young compeers,
No foot was fleet as his, no hand could send
The arrow so unerringly, and none
So lightly and so fearlessly could scale
The height whereon the eagle dwelt; and, more
Than all, to feel how she was loved! He seemed
To live but for her. When with boyish pride
He dared the venturous path the others feared,
If chance he saw his mother's cheek grow pale,
The meed was left unwon. One morn he went
In his light skiff, and promised to return
As evening fell; but when the sun sank down
The air was thick with clouds, and the fierce wind
Poured in its anger o'er the waters; loud
The thunder rolled, and the red lightnings hurled
Their fiery warnings. High upon a rock
She raised a fire:—the lightning struck the pile,
She marked it not—the rain beat on her head,
It was unfelt—but with the agony
Of hope expiring, still she fed the flame.
Day rolled the clouds away, and, sick at heart,
She looked towards the shore—he floated there,
Her own beloved Child!—With one wild shriek
She threw herself towards him, and the waves
Close on them undivided! - - -
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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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"Poetic Sketches. Sketch Sixth" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 30 May 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/52713/poetic-sketches.-sketch-sixth>.

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