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Letitia Elizabeth Landon

(1802-1838 / England)

Sir Thomas Lawrence


DIVINEST art, the stars above
Were fated on thy birth to shine;
Oh, born of beauty and of love,
What early poetry was thine!

The softness of Ionian night
Upon Ionian summer lay,
One planet gave its vesper light,
Enough to guide a lover's way;
And gave the fountain as it played
The semblance of a silvery shower,
And as its waters fell, they made
A music meet for such an hour;

That, and the tones the gentle wind
Won from the leaf, as from a lute,
In natural melody combined,
Now that all ruder sound was mute;
And odours floated on the air,
As many a nymph had just unbound
The wreath that bound their raven hair,
And flung the fragrant tresses round.

Pillowed on violet leaves, which prest
Filled the sweet chamber with their sighs,
Lulled by the lyre's low notes to rest,
A Grecian youth in slumber lies;
And at his side a maiden stands,
The dark hair braided on her brow,
The lute within her slender hands,
But hushed is all its music now.

She would not wake him from his dreams,
Although she has so much to say,
Although the morning's earliest beams
Will see her warrior torn away.
How fond and earnest is the gaze
Upon these sleeping features thrown,
She who yet never dared to raise
Her timid eyes to meet his own.

She bends her lover's rest above,
Thoughtful with gentle hopes and fears,
And that unutterable love
Which never yet spoke but in tears;
She would not that those tears should fall
Upon the cherished sleeper's face,
She turns, and sees upon the wall
Its imaged shade, its perfect grace;
With eager hand she marked each line,
The shadowy brow, the arching head,

Till some creative power divine,
Love's likeness o'er love's shadow spread:
Since then, what passion and what power
Has dwelt upon the painter's art;
How has it soothed the absent hour,
With looks that wear life's loveliest part.

Oh, painter of our English isle,
Whose name is now upon my line,
Who gave to beauty's blush and smile
All that could make them most divine;
The fair Ionian's ancient claim
Was never paid, till paid by thee,
And thou didst honour to her name,
By showing what her sex can be.

Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010

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