Letitia Elizabeth Landon

(1802-1838 / England)

Girl At Her Devotions. By Newton


SHE was just risen from her bended knee,
But yet peace seem'd not with her piety;
For there was paleness upon her young cheek,
And thoughts upon the lips which never speak,
But wring the heart that at the last they break.
Alas! how much of misery may be read
In that wan forehead, and that bow'd down head:--
Her eye is on a picture, woe that ever
Love should thus struggle with a vain endeavour
Against itself: it is a common tale,
And ever will be while earth soils prevail
Over earth's happiness; it tells she strove
With silent, secret, unrequited love.

It matters not its history; love has wings
Like lightining , swift and fatal, and it springs
Like a wild flower where it is least expected,
Existing whether cherish'd or rejected;
Living with only but to be content,
Hopeless, for love is its own element,--
Requiring nothing so that it may be
The martyr of its fond fidelity.
A mystery art thou, thou mighty one!
We speak thy name in beauty, yet we shun
To own thee, Love, a guest; the poet's songs
Are sweetest when their voice to thee belongs,
And hope, sweet opiate, tenderness, delight,
Are terms which are thy own peculiar right;
Yet all deny their master,--who will own
His breast thy footstool, and his heart thy throne?

'Tis strange to think if we could fling aside
The masque and mantle that love wears from pride,
How much would be, we now so little guess,
Deep in each heart's undream'd, unsought recess.
The careless smile, like a gay banner borne,
The laugh of merriment, the lip of scorn,--
And for a cloak what is there that can be
So difficult to pierce as gaiety?
Too dazzling to be scann'd, the haughty brow
Seems to hide something it would not avow;
But rainbow words, light laugh, and thoughtless jest,
These are the bars, the curtain to the breast,
That shuns a scrutiny: and she, whose form
Now bends in grief beneath the bosom's storm,
Has hidden well her wound,--now none are nigh
To mock with curious or with careless eye,
(For love seeks sympathy, a chilling yes,
Strikes at the root of its best happiness,
And mockery is worm-wood), she may dwell
On feelings which that picture may not tell.

Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010

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