Landon site links: Home Page , Bibliography , Biography , Corvey Holdings , Corvey Project , Criticism and Context , E-Mail , Introduction , Related Sites , Sample Texts , SHU English


'Tis a wild tale--and sad, too, as the sigh

That young lips breathe when love's first dreamings


When blights and cankerworms, and chilling showers,

Come withering o'er the warm heart's passion-flowers.

Love! gentlest spirit! I do tell of thee,--

Of all thy thousand hopes, thy many fears,

Thy morning blushes, and thy evening tears;

What thou hast ever been, and still will be,--

Life's best, but most betraying witchery!

It is a night of summer,--and the sea

Sleeps, like a child, in mute tranquillity.

Soft o'er the deep-blue wave the moonlight breaks;

Gleaming, from out the white clouds of its zone,

Like beauty's changeful smile, when that it seeks

Some fact it loves yet fears to dwell upon.

The waves are motionless, save where the oar,

Light as Love's anger, and as quickly gone,

Has broken in upon their azure sleep.

Odours are on the air:--the gale has been

Wandering in groves where the rich roses weep,--

Where orange, citron, and soft lime-flower

Shed forth their fragrance to night's dewy hours.

Afar the distant city meets the gaze,

Where tower and turret in the pale light shine,

Seen like the monuments of other days--

Monuments Time half shadows, half displays.

And there are many, who, with witching song

And wild guitar's soul-thrilling melody,

Or the lute's melting music, float along

O'er the blue waters, still and silently.

That night had Naples sent her best display.

Of young and gallant, beautiful and gay.


There was a bark a little way apart

From all the rest, and there two lovers leant:--

One with a blushing cheek and beating heart,

And bashful glance, upon the sea-wave bent;

She might not meet the gaze the other sent

Upon her beauty;--but the half-breathed sighs,

The deepening colour, timid smiling eyes,

Told that she listened Love's sweet flatteries.

Then they were silent:--words are little aid

To Love, whose deepest vows are ever made

By the heart's beat alon. Oh, silence is

Love's own peculiar eloquence of bliss!--

Music swept past:--it was a simple tone;

But it has wakened heartfelt sympathies;--

It has brought into life things past and gone;

Has wakened all those secret memories,

That may be smothered, but that still will be

Present within thy soul, young Rosalie!

The notes had roused an answering chord within:--

In other days, that song her vesper hymn had been.

Her altered look is pale:--that dewy eye

Almost belies the smile her rich lips wear;--

That smile is mocked by a scarce breathing sigh,

Which tells of silent and suppressed care--

Tells that the life is withering with despair,

More irksome from its unsunned silentness--

A festering wound the spirit pines to bear;

A galling chain, whose pressure will intrude,

Fettering Mirth's step, and Pleasure's lightest mood.


Where are her thoughts thus wandering?--A spot,

Now distant far, is pictured on her mind,--

A chesnut [sic] shadowing a low white cot,

With rose and jasmine round the casement twined,

Mixed with the myrtle-tree's luxuriant blind.

Along, (oh! should such solitude be here?)

An aged form beneath the shade reclined,

Whose eye glanced round the scene;--and then a tear

Told that she missed one in her heart enshrined!

Then came remembrances of other times,

When eve oped her rich bowers for the pale day;

When the faint distant tones of convent chimes

Where answered by the lute and vesper lay;--

When the fond mother blest her gentle child,

And for her welfare prayed the Virgin mild.


And she has left the aged one to steep

Her nightly couch with tears for that lost child,--

The Rosalie,--who left her age to weep,

When that tempter flattered her and wiled

Her steps away, from her own home beguiled.


She started up in agony:--her eye

Met Manfredi's. Softly he spoke, and smiled.

Memory is past, and thought and feeling lie

Lost in one dream--all thrown on one wild die.

They floated o'er the waters, till the moon

Looked from the blue sky in her zenith noon,--

Till each glad bark at length had sought the shore,

And the waves echoed to the lute no more;--

Then sought their gay palazzo, where the ray

Of lamps shed light only less bright than day;

And there they feasted till the morn did fling

Her blushes o'er their mirth and revelling.

And life was as a tale of faërie,--

As when some Eastern genie rears bright bowers,

And spreads the green turf and the coloured flowers;

And calls upon the earth, the sea, the sky,

To yield their treasures for some gentle queen,

Whose reign is over the enchanted scene.

And Rosalie had pledged a magic cup--

The maddening cup of pleasure and of love!

There was for her one only dream on earth!

There was for her one only star above!--

She bent in passionate idolatry

Before her heart's sole idol--Manfredi!




'Tis night again--a soft and summernight;--

A deep-blue heaven, white clouds, moon and star-


So calm, so beautiful, that human eye

Might weep to look on such a tranquil sky:--

A night just formed for Hope's first dream of bliss,

Or for Love's yet more perfect happiness!


The moon is o'er a grove of cypress trees,

Weeping, like mourners, in the plaining breeze;

Echoing the music of a rill, whose song

Glided so sweetly, but so sad, along.

There is a little chapel in the shade,

Where many a pilgrim has knelt down and prayed

To the sweet saint, whose portrait, o'er the shrine,

The painter's skill has made all but divine.

It was a pale, a melancholy face--

A cheek which bore the trace of frequent tears,

And worn by grief,--though grief might not efface

The seal that beauty set in happier years;

And such a smile as on the brow appears

Of one whose earthly thoughts, long since subdued

Past this life's joys and sorrows, hopes and fears--

The worldly dreams o'er which the many brood,--

The heart-beat hushed in mild and chastened mood.

It was the image of the maid who wept

Those precious tears that heal and purify.

Love yet upon her life his station kept,

But heaven and heavenly thoughts were in her eye.

One knelt before the shrine, with cheek as pale.

As was the cold whitemarble. Can this be

The young--the loved--the happy Rosalie?

Alas! alas! her's is a common tale:--

She trusted,--as youth ever has believed;--

She heard Love's vows--confided--was deceived!


Oh, Love! thy essence is thy purity!

Breathe one unhallowed breath upon thy flame,

And it is gone for ever,--and but leaves

A sullied vase--its pure light lost in shame!


And Rosalie was loved,--not with that pure

And holy passion which can age endure;

But loved with wild and self-consuming fires,--

A torch which glares--and scorches--and expires.

A little while her dream of bliss remained,--

A little while Love's wings were left unchained.

But change came o'er the trusted Manfredi:

His heart forgot its vowed idolatry;

And his forgotten love was left to brood

O'er wrongs and ruin in her solitude!


How very desolate that breast must be,

Whose only joyance is in memory!

And what must woman suffer, thus betrayed?--

Her heart's most warm and precious feelings made

But things wherewith to wound: that heart--so weak,

So soft--laid open to the vulture's beak!

Its sweet revealings given up to scorn

It burns to bear, and yet that must be borne!

And, sorer still, that bitterer emotion,

To know the shrine which had our soul's devotion

Is that of a false deity!--to look

Upon the eyes we worshipped, and brook

Their cold reply! Yet, these are all for her!--

The rude world's outcast, and love's wanderer!

Alas! that love, which is so sweet a thing,

Should ever cause guilt, grief, or suffering!

Yet she upon whose face the sunbeams fall--

That dark-eyed girl--had felt their bitterest thrall!


She thought upon her love; and there was not

In passion's record one green sunny spot--

It had been all a madness and a dream,

The shadow of a flower on the stream,

Which seems, but is not: and then memory turned

To her lone mother. How her bosom burned

With sweet and bitter thoughts! There might be rest--

The wounded dove will flee into her nest--

That mother's arms might fold her child again.

The cold world scorn, the cruel smite in vain,

And falsehood be remembered no more,

In that calm shelter:--and she might weep o'er

Her faults and find forgiveness. Had not she

To whom she knelt found pardon in the eyes

Of Heaven, in offering for sacrifice

A broken heart? And might not pardon be

Also for her? She looked up to the face

Of that pale saint; and in that gentle brow,

Which seemed to hold communion with her thought,

There was a smile which gave hope energy.

She prayed one deep wild prayer,--that she might gain

The home she hoped:--then sought that home again.


A flush of beauty is upon the sky--

Eve's last warm blushes--like the crimson dye

The maiden wears, when first her dark eyes meet

The graceful lover's, sighing at her feet.

And there were sound of music on the breeze,

And perfume shaken from the citron trees;

While the dark chesnuts [sic] caught a golden ray

On their green leaves, the last bright gift of day;

And peasants dancing gaily in the shade

To the soft mandolin, whose light notes made

An echo fit to the glad voices singing.

The twilight spirit his sweet urn is flinging

Of dew upon the lime and orange-stems,

And giving to the rose pearl diadems.


There is a pilgrim by that old grey tree,

With head upon her hand, bent mournfully;

And looking round upon each lovely thing,

And breathing the sweet air, as they could bring

To her no beauty and no solacing.

'Tis Rosalie! Her prayer was not in vain.

The truant-child has sought her home again!


It must be worth a life of toil and care,--

Worth those dark chains the wearied one must bear

Who toils up fortune's steep,--all that can wring

The worn-out bosom with lone-suffering,--

Worth restlessness, oppression, goading fears,

And long-deferred hopes of many years,--

To reach again that little quiet spot,

So well loved once, and never quite forgot;--

To trace again the steps of infancy,

And catch their freshness from their memory!

And it is triumph, sure, when fortune's sun

Has shone upon us, and our task is done,

To show our harvest to the eyes which were

Once all the world to us! Perhaps there are

Some who had presaged kindly of our youth.

Feel we not proud their prophecy was sooth?

But how felt Rosalie?--The very air

Seemed as it brought reproach! there was no eye

To look delighted, welcome none was there!

She felt as feels an outcast wandering by

Where every door is closed! She looked around;--

She heard some voices' sweet familiar sound.

There were some changed, and some remembered


There were girls, whom she left in their first springs,

Now blushed into full beauty. There was one

Whom she loved tenderly in days now gone!

She was not dancing gaily with the rest:

A rose-cheeked child within her arms was prest;

And it had twined its small hands in the hair

That clustered o'er its mother's brow: as fair

As buds in spring. She gave her laughing dove

To one who clasped it with a father's love;

And if a painter's eye had sought a scene

Of love in its most perfect loveliness--

Of childhood, and of wedded happiness,--

He would have painted the sweet Madeline!

But Rosalie shrank from them, and she strayed

Through a small grove of cypresses, whose shade

Hung o'er a burying-ground, where the low stone

And the gray cross recorded those now gone!

There was a grave just closed. Not one seemed near,

To pay the tribute of one long--last tear!

How very desolate must that one be,

Whose more than grave has not a memory!


Then Rosalie thought on her mother's age,--

Just such her end would be with her away;

No child the last cold death-pang to assuage--

No child by her neglected tomb to pray!

She asked--and like a hope from Heaven it came!--

To hear them answer with a stranger's name.


She reached her mother's cottage; by that gate

She thought how heronce lover wont to wait

To tell her honied tale!--and then she thought

On all the utter ruin he had wrought!

The moon shone brightly, as it used to do

Ere youth, and hope, and love, had been untrue;

But it shone o'er the desolate! The flowers

Were dead; the faded jessamine, unbound,

Trailed, like a heavy weed, upon the ground;

And fell the moonlight vainly over trees,

Which had not even one rose,--although the breeze,

Almost as if in mockery, had brought

Sweet tones it from the nightingale had caught!


She entered in the cottage. None were there!

The hearth was dark,--the walls looked cold and bare!

All--all spoke poverty and suffering!

All--all was changed; and but one only thing

Kept its old place! Rosalie's mandolin

Hung on the wall, where it had ever been.

There was one other room,--and Rosalie

Sought for her mother there. A heavy flame

Gleamed from a dying lamp; a cold air came

Damp from the broken casement. There one lay,

Like marble seen but by the moonlight ray!

And Rosalie drew near. One withered hand

Was stretched, as it would reach a wretched stand

Where some cold water stood! And by the bed

She knelt--and gazed--and saw her mother--dead!