Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A LONG WHILE AGO, by LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON

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A LONG WHILE AGO, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Still hangeth down the old accustom'd willow
Last Line: A long while ago.
Alternate Author Name(s): L. E. L.; Maclean, Letitia
Subject(s): Friendship; Melancholy; Memory; Dejection

STILL hangeth down the old accustomed willow,
Hiding the silver underneath each leaf,
So drops the long hair from some maiden pillow,
When midnight heareth the else silent grief;
There floats the water-lily, like a sovereign
Whose lovely empire is a fairy world,
The purple dragon-fly above it hovering,
As when its fragile ivory uncurl'd
A long while ago.

I hear the bees in sleep music winging
From the wild thyme when they have past the noon --
There is the blackbird in the hawthorn singing,
Stirring the white spray with the same sweet tune;
Fragrant the tansy breathing from the meadows,
As the west wind bends down the long green grass,
Now dark, now golden, as the fleeting shadows
Of the light clouds pass as they wont to pass
A long while ago.

There are the roses which we used to gather
To bind a young fair brow no longer fair; --
Ah! thou art mocking us, thou summer weather,
To be so sunny, with the loved one where?
'Tis not her voice -- 'tis not her step -- that lingers
In lone familiar sweetness on the wind;
The bee, the bird, are now the only singers --
Where is the music once with their's combined
A long while age?

As the lorn flowers that in her pale hands perish'd
Is she who only hath a memory here.
She was so much a part of us, so cherish'd,
So young, that even love forgot to fear.
Now is her image paramount, it reigneth
With a sad strength that time may not subdue;
And memory a mournful triumph gaineth,
As the slow looks we cast around renew
A long while ago.

Thou lovely garden! where the summer covers
The tree with green leaves, and the ground with flowers;
Darkly the past around thy beauty hovers --
The past -- the grave of our once happy hours.
It is too sad to gaze upon the seeming
Of nature's changeless loveliness, and feel
That, with the sunshine round, the heart is dreaming
Darkly o'er wounds inflicted, not to heal,
A long while ago.

Ah! visit not the scenes where youth and childhood
Pass'd years that deepen'd as those years went by;
Shadows will darken in the careless wildwood --
There will be tears upon the tranquil sky.
Memories, like phantoms, haunt me while I wander
Beneath the drooping boughs of each old tree:
I grow too sad as mournfully I ponder
Things that are not -- and yet that used to be --
A long while ago.

Worn out -- the heart seems like a ruin'd altar: --
Where are the friends, and where the faith of yore?
My eyes grow dim with tears -- my footsteps falter --
Thinking of those whom I can love no more.
We change, and others change -- while recollection
Would fain renew what it can but recall.
Dark are life's dreams, and weary its affection,
And cold its hopes -- and yet I felt them all
A long while ago.

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