Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CARRIER-PIGEON RETURNED, by LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON



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THE CARRIER-PIGEON RETURNED, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Sunset has flung its glory o'er the floods
Last Line: The darkness of the grave is now before her.
Alternate Author Name(s): L. E. L.; Maclean, Letitia
Subject(s): Pigeons


SUNSET has flung its glory o'er the floods,
That wind amid Ionia's myrtle woods, --
Sunset that dies a conqueror in his splendour;
But the warm crimson ray
Has almost sunk away
Beneath a purple twilight faint and tender.

Soft are the hues around the marble fanes,
Whose marble shines amid the wooded plains, --
Fanes where a false but lovely creed was kneeling,
A creed that held divine
All that was but a sign,
The outward to the inward world appealing.

Earth was a child, and child-like, in those hours,
Full of fresh feelings, and scarce conscious powers,
Around its own impatient beauty flinging;
These young believings were
Types of the true and fair, --
The holy faith that Time was calmly bringing.

Still to those woods, with ruins fill'd, belong
The ancient immortality of song, --
Names and old words whose music is undying, --
Yet do they haunt the heart
With its divinest part,
The past that to the present is replying.

The purple ocean far beneath her feet,
The wild thyme on the fragrant hill her seat,
As in the days of old there leans a Maiden, --
Many have watch'd before
The breaking waves ashore, --
Faint with uncounted moments sorrow laden.

With cold and trembling hand
She has undone the band
Around the carrier-pigeon just alighted, --
And instant dies away
The transitory ray
From the dark eye it had one instant lighted.

The sickness of a hope too long deferred
Sinks on her heart, -- it is no longer stirred
By the quick presence of the sweet emotion, --
Sweet even unto pain,
With which she sees again
Her bird come sweeping o'er the purple ocean.

Woe for the watcher, -- still it doth not bring
A letter nestled fragrant 'neath its wing;
There is no answer to her fond inquiring, --
Again, and yet again,
No letter o'er the main
Quiets the anxious spirit's fond desiring.

Down the ungather'd darkness of her hair
Floats, like a pall that covers her despair, --
What woman's care hath she in her adorning?
The noontide's sultry hours
Have wither'd the white flowers,
Binding its dark lengths in the early morning.

All day her seat has been beside the shore
Watching for him who will return no more;
He thinks not of her or her weary weeping.
Absence, it is thy lot
To be too soon forgot,
Or to leave memory but to one sad keeping.

Oh, folly of a loving heart that clings
With desperate faith, to which each moment brings
Quick and faint gleams an instant's thought must smother;
And yet finds mocking scope
For some unreal hope,
Which would appear despair to any other!

She knows the hopelessness of what she seeks,
And yet, as soon as rosy morning breaks,
Doth she unloose her pigeon's silken fetter;
But thro' the twilight air
No more its pinions bear
What once so oft they brought -- the false one's letter.

The harvest of the summer-rose is spread,
But lip and cheek with her have lost their red;
Theirs is the paleness of the soul's consuming --
Fretfully day by day
In sorrow worn away;
Youth, joy, and bloom have no more sure entombing.

It is a common story, which the air
Has had around the weary world to bear,
That of the trusting spirit's vain accusing;
Yet once how firm and fond
Seemed the eternal bond
That now a few brief parted days are loosing.

Close to her heart the weary pigeon lies,
Gazing upon her with its earnest eyes,
Which seem to ask -- Why are we thus neglected?
It is the still despair
Of passion forced to bear
Its deep and tender offering rejected.

Poor girl! her soul is heavy with the past;
Around the shades of night are falling fast;
Heavier still the shadow passing o'er her.
The maiden will no more
Watch on the sea-beat shore --
The darkness of the grave is now before her.





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