Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, INEZ, by LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON



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INEZ, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Alas that clouds should ever steal
Last Line: Of inez on her juan's breast.
Alternate Author Name(s): L. E. L.; Maclean, Letitia


Alas that clouds should ever steal
O'er Love's delicious sky;
That ever Love's sweet lip should feel
Aught but the gentlest sigh!

Love is a pearl of purest hue,
But stormy waves are round it;
And dearly may a woman rue
The hour that first she found it.

THE lips that breathed this song were fair
As those the rose-touch'd Houries wear,
And dimpled by a smile, whose spell
Not even sighs could quite dispel;
And eyes of that dark azure light
Seen only at the deep midnight;
A cheek, whose crimson hues seem'd caught
From the first tint by April brought
To the peach-bud; and clouds of curl
Over a brow of blue-vein'd pearl,
Falling like sunlight, just one shade
Of chestnut on its golden braid,
Is she not all too fair to weep?
Those young eyes should be closed in sleep,
Dreaming those dreams the moonlight brings,
When the dew falls and the nightingale sings:
Dreams of a word, of a look, of a sigh,
Till the cheek burns and the heart beats high,
But INEZ sits and weeps in her bower,
Pale as the gleam on the white orange-flower,
And counting the wearying moments o'er
For his return, who returns no more!

There was a time -- a time of bliss, --
When to have met his INEZ' kiss,
To but look in her deep blue eye,
To breathe the air sweet with her sigh,
Young JUAN would have urged his steed
With the lightning of a lover's speed, --
Ere she should have shed one single tear,
He had courted danger, and smiled at fear;
But he had parted in high disdain,
And sworn to dash from his heart the chain
Of one who, he said, was too light to be
Holy and pure in her constancy.
Alas! that woman, not content
With her peculiar element
Of gentle love, should ever try
The meteor spells of vanity!
Her world should be of love alone.
Of one fond heart, and only one.
For heartless flattery, and sighs
And looks false as the rainbow's dyes,
Are very worthless. And that morn
Had JUAN from his INEZ borne
All woman's prettiness of scorn;
Had watch'd for her averted eye
In vain, -- had seen a rival nigh
And smiled upon: he wildly swore
To look on the false one no more,
Who thus could trifle, thus could break
A fond heart for the triumph's sake. --
And yet she loved him, -- oh! how well,
Let woman's own fond spirit tell.
When the warriors met in their high career,
Went not her heart along with his spear?
The dance seem'd sad, and the festival dim,
If her hand was unclaim'd by him;
Waked she her lute if it breathed not his name?
Lay she in dreams, but some thought of him came?
No flowers, no smiles, were on life's dull tide,
When JUAN was not by his INEZ' side.
And yet they parted! Still there clings
An earth-stain to the fairest things;
And love, that most delicious gift
Upon life's shrine of sorrow left,
Has its own share of suffering:
A shade falls from its radiant wing,
A spot steals o'er its sunny brow,
Fades the rose-lip's witching glow.
'Tis well, -- for earth were too like heaven,
If length of life to love were given.

He has left the land of the chestnut and lime
For the cedar and rose of a southern clime,
With a pilgrim's vow and a soldier's brand,
To fight in the wars of the Holy Land.
No colours are placed on his helm beside,
No lady's scarf o'er his neck is tied,
A dark plume alone does young JUAN wear: --
Look where warriors are thickest, that plume will be there.
But what has fame to do with one
Whose light and hope of fame are gone?
Oh, fame is as the moon above,
Whose sun of light and life is love.
There is more in the smile of one gentle eye
Than the thousand pages of history;
There is more in the spell of one slight gaze,
Than the loudest plaudits the crowd can raise.
Take the gems in glory's coronal,
And one smile of beauty is worth them all.

He was not lonely quite, -- a shade,
A dream, a fancy, round him play'd;
Sometimes low, at the twilight hour,
He heard a voice like that whose power
Was on his heart: it sang a strain
Of those whose love was fond, yet vain:
Sweet like a dream, -- yet none might say
Whose was the voice, or whose the lay
And once, when worn with toil and care,
All that the soldier has to bear,
With none to soothe and none to bless
His hour of sickly loneliness.
When, waked to consciousness again,
The fire gone from his heart and brain,
He could remember some fair thing
Around his pillow hovering;
Of white arms in whose clasp he slept;
Of young blue eyes that o'er him wept;
How, when on the parch'd lip and brow
Burnt the red fever's hottest glow,
Some one had brought dew of the spring,
With woman's own kind solacing,
And he had heard a voice, whose thrill
Was echoed by his bosom still.
It was not hers -- it could but be
A dream, the fever's fantasie....

Deadly has been the fight to-day;
But now the infidels give way,
And cimetar and turban'd band
Scatter before the foeman's hand;
And in the rear, with sword and spur,
Follows the Christian conqueror.
And one dark chief rides first of all --
A warrior at his festival --
Chasing his prey, till none are near
To aid the single soldier's spear,
Save one slight boy. Of those who flew,
Three turn, the combat to renew:
They fly, but death is on the field --
That page's breast was JUAN'S shield.
He bore the boy where, in the shade
Of the green palm, a fountain made
Its pleasant music; tenderly
He laid his head upon his knee,
And from the dented helm unroll'd
The blood-stain'd curls of summer gold.
Knew he not then those deep-blue eyes,
That lip of rose, and smiles, and sighs?
His INEZ! -- his! -- could this be her, --
Thus for his sake a wanderer! --
He spoke not -- moved not -- but sate there,
A statue in his cold despair,
Watching the lip and cheek decay,
As faded life's last hue away,
While she lay sweet and motionless,
As only faint with happiness.
At length she spoke, in that sweet tone
Woman and love have for their own:
"This is what I have pray'd might be --
Has death not seal'd my truth to thee?" ...

A cypress springs by yonder grave,
And music from the fountain wave
Sings its low dirge to the pale rose
That, near, in lonely beauty blows.
Two lovers sleep beneath. Oh, sweet,
Even in the grave, it is to meet;
Sweet even the death-couch of stone,
When shared with some beloved one;
And sweeter than life the silent rest
Of INEZ on her JUAN'S breast.





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