Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE NEGLECTED ONE, by LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON

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THE NEGLECTED ONE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: And there is silence in that lonely hall
Last Line: And she is dead, -- her secret unreveal'd.
Alternate Author Name(s): L. E. L.; Maclean, Letitia

AND there is silence in that lonely hall,
Save where the waters of the fountain fall,
And the wind's distant murmuring, which takes
Sweet messages from every bud it wakes.
'Tis more than midnight; all the lamps are gone,
Their fragrant oils exhausted, -- all but one,
A little silver lamp beside a scroll,
Where a young maiden leant, and pour'd her soul,
In those last words, the bitter and the brief.
How can they say confiding is relief?
Light are the woes that to the eyelids spring,
Subdued and soften'd by the tears they bring;
But there are some too long, too well conceal'd,
Too deeply felt, -- that are but once reveal'd:
Like the withdrawing of the mortal dart,
And then the life-blood follows from the heart;
Sorrow, before unspoken by a sigh,
But which, once spoken, only hath to die. --
Young, very young, the lady was, who now
Bow'd on her slender hand her weary brow:
Not beautiful, save when the eager thought
In the soft eyes a sudden beauty wrought:
Not beautiful, save when the cheek's warm blush
Grew eloquent with momentary flush
Of feeling, that made beauty, not to last,
And scarcely caught, so quickly is it past.
-- Alas! she knew it well; too early thrown
'Mid a cold world, the unlov'd and the lone,
With no near kindred ties on whom could dwell
Love that so sought to be beloved as well.
Too sensitive for flattery, and too kind
To bear the loneliness by fate assigned,
Her life had been a struggle: long she strove
To fix on things inanimate her love;
On pity, kindness, music, gentle lore,
All that romance could yield of fairy store.
In vain! she loved: -- she loved, and from that hour
Gone were the quiet loves of bird or flower;
The unread book dropp'd listless on her knee,
The untouch'd lute hung on the bending tree,
Whose unwreath'd boughs no more a pleasant shade
For the lone dreamings of her twilight made.
-- Well might she love him: every eye was turn'd
On that young knight, and bright cheeks brighter burn'd,
Save one, that grew the paler for his sake:
Alas for her, whose heart but beat to break;
Who knew too well, not hers the lip or eye
For which the youthful lover swears to die.
How deep, how merciless, the love represt,
That robs the silent midnight of its rest;
That sees in gather'd crowds but one alone;
That hears in mingled footsteps only one;
That turns the poet's page, to only find
Some mournful image for itself design'd;
That seeks in music but the 'plaining tone
Which secret sorrow whispers is its own!
Alas for the young heart, when love is there,
Its comrade and its confidant, despair!

How often leant in some unnoticed spot,
Her very being by the throng forgot,
Shrunk back to shun the glad lamp's mocking ray,
Pass'd many a dark and weary hour away,
Watching the young, the beautiful, the bright,
Seeming more lovely in that lovely light;
And as each fair face glided through the dance,
Stealing at some near mirror one swift glance,
Then, starting at the contrast, seek her room,
To weep, at least, in solitude and gloom!
And he, her stately idol, he, with eye
Dark as the eagle's in a summer sky,
And darker curls, amid whose raven shade
The very wild wind amorously delay'd,
With that bright smile, which makes all others dim,
So proud, so sweet, -- what part had she in him?
And yet she loved him: who may say, "be still,"
To the fond heart that beats not at our will?

'Twas too much wretchedness: -- the convent cell,
There might the maiden with her misery dwell.
And that, to-morrow, was her chosen doom:
There might her hopes, her feelings, find a tomb.
Her feelings! -- no: pray, struggle, weep, condemn, --
Her feelings, -- there was but one grave for them.
'Twas her last night, and she had look'd her last
And she must live henceforward in the past.
She linger'd in the hall, -- he had been there;
Her pale lips grew yet paler with the prayer
That only ask'd his happiness. She took
A blank leaf from an old emblazon'd book,
Which told love's chronicles; a faint hope stole, --
A sweet light o'er the darkness of her soul, --
Might she not leave remembrance, like the wreath,
Whose dying flowers their scents on twilight breathe;
Just one faint tone of music, low and clear,
Coming when other songs have left the ear?
Might she not tell him how she loved, and pray
A mournful memory for some distant day?
She took the scroll: -- what! bare perhaps to scorn
The timid sorrow she so long had borne!
Silent as death, she hid her face, for shame
In rushing crimson to her forehead came;
Through the small fingers fell the bitter rain,
And tremblingly she closed the leaves again.
-- The hall is lit with rose, that morning hour,
Whose lights are colour'd by each opening flower;
A sweet bird by the casement sat and sang
A song so glad, that like a laugh it rang,
While its wings shook the jessamine, till the bloom
Floated like incense round that joyous room.
-- They found the maiden: still her face was bow'd,
As with some shame that might not be avow'd;
They raised the long hair which her face conceal'd --
And she is dead, -- her secret unreveal'd.

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