Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE IMPROVISATRICE: LORENZO'S HISTORY, by LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON



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THE IMPROVISATRICE: LORENZO'S HISTORY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I was betrothed from earliest youth
Last Line: "lorenzo to his minstrel love."
Alternate Author Name(s): L. E. L.; Maclean, Letitia


I WAS betrothed from earliest youth
To a fair orphan, who was left
Beneath my father's roof and care, --
Of every other friend bereft:
An heiress, with her fertile vales,
Caskets of Indian gold and pearl;
Yet meek as poverty itself,
And timid as a peasant girl:
A delicate, frail thing, -- but made
For spring sunshine, or summer shade;
A slender flower unmeet to bear
One April shower, -- so slight, so fair.

I loved her as a brother loves
His favourite sister: and when war
First called me from our long-shared home
To bear my father's sword afar,
I parted from her, -- not as one
Whose life and soul are wrung by parting:
With death-cold brow and throbbing pulse,
And burning tears like life-blood starting.
Lost in war dreams, I scarcely heard
The prayer that bore my name above:
The 'Farewell!' that kissed off her tears
Had more of pity than of love!
I thought of her not with that deep,
Intensest memory love will keep
More tenderly than life. To me
She was but as a dream of home, --
One of those calm and pleasant thoughts
That o'er the soldier's spirit come;
Remembering him, when battle low'rs,
Of twilight walks and fireside hours.

I came to thy bright FLORENCE when
The task of blood was done:
I saw thee! Had I lived before?
Oh, no! my life but then begun.
Ay, by that blush! the summer rose
Has not more luxury of light!
Ay, by those eyes! whose language is
Like what the clear stars speak at night,
Thy first look was a fever spell! --
Thy first word was an oracle
Which sealed my fate! I worshipped thee,
My beautiful, bright deity!
Worshipped thee as a sacred thing
Of Genius' high imagining; --
But loved thee for thy sweet revealing
Of woman's own most gentle feeling.
I might have broken from the chain
Thy power, thy glory round me flung!
But never might forget thy blush --
The smile which on thy sweet lips hung!
I lived but in thy sight! One night
From thy hair fell a myrtle blossom;
It was a relic that breathed of thee:
Look! it has withered in my bosom!
Yet I was wretched, though I dwelt
In the sweet sight of paradise:
A curse lay on me. But not now,
Thus smiled upon by those dear eyes,
Will I think over thoughts of pain.
I'll only tell thee that the line
That ever told Love's misery,
Ne'er told of misery like mine!
I wedded. -- I could not have borne
To see the young IANTHE blighted
By that worst blight the spring can know --
Trusting affection ill requited!
Oh, was it that she was too fair,
Too innocent for this damp earth;
And that her native star above
Reclaimed again its gentle birth?
She faded. Oh, my peerless queen,
I need not pray thee pardon me
For owning that my heart then felt
For any other than for thee!
I bore her to those azure isles
Where health dwells by the side of spring;
And deemed their green and sunny vales,
And calm and fragrant airs, might bring
Warmth to the cheek, light to the eye,
Of her who was too young to die.
It was in vain! -- and, day by day
The gentle creature died away.
As parts the odour from the rose --
As fades the sky at twilight's close --
She past so tender and so fair;
So patient, though she knew each breath
Might be her last; her own mild smile
Parted her placid lips in death.
Her grave is under southern skies;
Green turf and flowers o'er it rise.
Oh! nothing but a pale spring wreath
Would fade o'er her who lies beneath!
I gave her prayers -- I gave her tears --
I staid awhile beside her grave;
Then led by Hope, and led by Love,
Again I cut the azure wave.
What have I more to say, my life!
But just to pray one smile of thine,
Telling I have not loved in vain --
That thou dost join these hopes of mine?
Yes, smile, sweet love! our life will be
As radiant as a fairy tale!
Glad as the sky-lark's earliest song --
Sweet as the sigh of the spring gale!
All, all that life will ever be,
Shone o'er, divinest love! by thee.

OH, mockery of happiness!
Love now was all too late to save.
False Love! oh what had you to do
With one you had led to the grave?
A little time I had been glad
To mark the paleness on my check;
To feel how, day by day, my step
Grew fainter, and my hand more weak;
To know the fever of my soul
Was also preying on my frame:
But now I would have given worlds
To change the crimson hectic's flame
For the pure rose of health; to live
For the dear life that Love could give.
-- Oh, youth may sicken at its bloom,
And wealth and fame pray for the tomb; --
But can love bear from love to part,
And not cling to that one dear heart?
I shrank away from death, -- my tears
Had been unwept in other years:
But thus, in love's first ecstasy,
Was it not worse than death to die?
LORENZO! I would live for thee!
But thou wilt have to weep for me!
That sun has kissed the morning dews, --
I shall not see its twilight close!
That rose is fading in the noon,
And I shall not outlive that rose!
Come, let me lean upon thy breast,
My last, best place of happiest rest!
Once more let me breathe thy sighs --
Look once more in those watching eyes!
Oh! but for thee, and grief of thine,
And parting, I should not repine!
It is deep happiness to die,
Yet live in Love's dear memory.
Thou wilt remember me, -- my name
Is linked with beauty and with fame.
The summer airs, the summer sky,
The soothing spell of music's sigh, --
Stars in their poetry of night,
The silver silence of moonlight, --
The dim blush of the twilight hours,
The fragrance of the bee-kissed flowers; --
But, more than all, sweet songs will be
Thrice sacred unto Love and me.
LORENZO! be this kiss a spell!
My first! -- my last! FAREWELL! -- FAREWELL!

THERE is a lone and stately hall,
Its master dwells apart from all.
A wanderer through Italia's land,
One night a refuge there I found.
The lightning flash rolled o'er the sky,
The torrent rain was sweeping round:
These won me entrance. He was young,
The castle's lord, but pale like age;
His brow, as sculpture beautiful,
Was wan as grief's corroded page.
He had no words, he had no smiles,
No hopes: -- his sole employ to brood
Silently over his sick heart
In sorrow and in solitude.
I saw the hall where, day by day,
He mused his weary life away;
It scarcely seemed a place for woe,
But rather like a genie's home.
Around were graceful statues ranged,
And pictures shone around the dome.
But there was one -- a loveliest one! --
One picture brightest of all there!
Oh! never did the painter's dream
Shape things so gloriously fair!
It was a face! -- the summer day
Is not more radiant in its light!
Dark flashing eyes, like the deep stars
Lighting the azure brow of night;
A blush like sunrise o'er the rose;
A cloud of raven hair, whose shade
Was sweet as evening's, and whose curls
Clustered beneath a laurel braid.
She leant upon a harp: -- one hand
Wandered, like snow, amid the chords;
The lips were opening with such life,
You almost heard the silvery words.
She looked a form of light and life,
All soul, all passion, and all fire;
A priestess of Apollo's, when
The morning beams fall on her lyre;
A Sappho, or ere love had turned
The heart to stone where once it burned.
But by the picture's side was placed
A funeral urn on which was traced
The heart's recorded wretchedness; --
And on a tablet, hung above,
Was 'graved one tribute of sad words --
"LORENZO TO HIS MINSTREL LOVE."





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