Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE PAINTER'S LOVE, by LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON



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THE PAINTER'S LOVE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Your skies are blue, your sun is bright
Last Line: When hearts they would have soothed are broken!
Alternate Author Name(s): L. E. L.; Maclean, Letitia
Subject(s): Love; Paintings & Painters


YOUR skies are blue, your sun is bright;
But sky nor sun has that sweet light
Which gleam'd upon the summer sky
Of my own lovely ITALY!
'Tis long since I have breathed the air
Which, fill'd with odours, floated there, --
Sometimes in sleep a gale sweeps by,
Rich with the rose and myrtle's sigh; --
'Tis long since I have seen the vine
With Autumn's topaz clusters shine,
And watch'd the laden branches bending,
And heard the vintage songs ascending;
'Tis very long since I have seen
The ivy's death wreath, cold and green,
Hung round the old and broken stone
Raised by the hands now dead and gone!
I do remember one lone spot,
By most unnoticed or forgot --
Would that I too recall'd it not!
It was a little temple, gray,
With half its pillars worn away,
No roof left, but one cypress-tree
Flinging its branches mournfully:
In ancient days this was a shrine
For goddess or for nymph divine.
And sometimes I have dream'd I heard
A step soft as a lover's word,
And caught a perfume on the air,
And saw a shadow gliding fair,
Dim, sad as if it came to sigh
O'er thoughts, and things, and time pass'd by!
On one side of the temple stood
A deep and solitary wood,
Where chestnuts rear'd their giant length,
And mock'd the fallen columns' strength;
It was the lone wood-pigeon's home,
And flocks of them would ofttimes come
And, lighting on the temple, pour
A cooing dirge to days no more!
And by its side there was a lake
With only snow-white swans to break,
With ebon feet and silver wing,
The quiet waters' glittering.
And when sometimes, as eve closed in,
I waked my lonely mandolin,
The gentle birds came gliding near,
As if they loved that song to hear.

'Tis past, 'tis past, my happiness
Was all too pure and passionless!
I waked from calm and pleasant dreams
To watch the morning's earliest gleams,
Wandering with light feet 'mid the dew,
Till my cheek caught its rosy hue;
And when uprose the bright-eyed moon,
I sorrow'd day was done so soon;
Save that I loved the sweet starlight,
The soft, the happy sleep of night!

Time has changed since, and I have wept
The day away; and when I slept,
My sleeping eyes ceased not their tears;
And jealousies, griefs, hopes, and fears,
Even in slumber held their reign,
And gnaw'd my heart, and rack'd my brain!
Oh much, -- most withering 'tis to feel
The hours like guilty creatures steal,
To wish the weary day was past,
And yet to have no hope at last!
All's in that curse, aught else above,
That fell on me -- betrayed love!

There was a stranger sought our land,
A youth, who with a painter's hand
Traced our sweet valleys and our vines,
The moonlight on the ruin'd shrines,
And now and then the brow of pearl
And black eyes of the peasant girl:
We met and loved -- ah! even now
My pulse throbs to recall that vow
Our first kiss seal'd! We stood beneath
The cypress-tree's funercal wreath,
That temple's roof. But what thought I
Of aught like evil augury!
I only felt his burning sighs,
I only look'd within his eyes,
I saw no dooming star above,
There is such happiness in love!
I left, with him, my native shore,
Not as a bride who passes o'er
Her father's threshold with his blessing,
With flowers strewn and friends caressing,
Kind words, and purest hopes, to cheer
The bashfulness of maiden fear,
But I -- I fled as culprits fly,
By night, watch'd only by one eye,
Whose look was all the world to me,
And it met mine so tenderly,
I thought not of the days to come,
I thought not of my own sweet home,
Nor of mine aged father's sorrow, --
Wild love takes no thought for to-morrow.
I left my home, and I was left
A stranger in his land, bereft
Of even hope; there was not one
Familiar face to look upon. --
Their speech was strange. This penalty
Was meet; but surely not from thee,
False love! -- 'twas not for thee to break
The heart but sullied for thy sake! --

I could have wish'd once more to see
Thy green hills, loveliest ITALY!
I could have wish'd yet to have hung
Upon the music of thy tongue;
I could have wished thy flowers to bloom,
Thy cypress planted, by my tomb!
This wish is vain, my grave must be
Far distant from my own country!
I must rest here. -- O lay me then
By the white church in yonder glen;
Amid the darkening elms, it seems,
Thus silver'd over by the beams
Of the pale moon, a very shrine
For wounded hearts -- it shall be mine!
There is one corner, green and lone,
A dark yew over it has thrown
Long, night-like boughs; 'tis thickly set
With primrose and with violet.
Their bloom's now past; but in the spring
They will be sweet and glistening.
There is a bird, too, of your clime,
That sings there in the winter time;
My funeral hymn his song will be,
Which there are none to chant, save he.
And let there be memorial none,
No name upon the cold white stone;
The only heart where I would be
Remember'd, is now dead to me!
I would not even have him weep
O'er his Italian love's last sleep.
Oh, tears are a most worthless token
When hearts they would have soothed are broken!





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