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The Thessalian Fountain

Letitia Elizabeth Landon 1802 (Chelsea) – 1838 (Cape Coast)

Gleamings of poetry,--if I may give
That name of beauty, passion, and of grace,
To the wild thoughts that in a starlit hour,
In a pale twilight, or a rose-bud morn,
Glance o'er my spirit--thoughts that are like light,
Or love, or hope, in their effects.

A SMALL clear fountain, with green willow trees
Girdling it round, there is one single spot
Where you may sit and rest, its only bank;
Elsewhere the willows grow so thick together:
And it were like a sin to crush that bed
Of pale and delicate narcissus flowers,
Bending so languidly, as still they found
In the pure wave a love and destiny;
But here the moss is soft, and when the wind
Has been felt even through the forest screen,--
For round, like guardians to the willows, stand
Oaks large and old, tall firs, dark beach, and elms
Rich with the yellow wealth that April brings,--
A shower of rose-leaves makes it like a bed
Whereon a nymph might sleep, when, with her arm
Shining like snow amid her raven hair,
She dreamt of the sweet song wherewith the faun
Had lulled her, and awakening from her rest
When through the leaves an amorous sunbeam stole
And kissed her eyes; the fountain were a bath
For her to lave her ivory feet, and cool
The crimson beauty of her sleep-warm cheek,
And bind her ruffled curls in the blue mirror
Of the transparent waters. But these days
Of visible poetry have long been past!—
No fear that the young hunter may profane
The haunt of some immortal; but there still—
For the heart clings to old idolatry,
If not with true belief, with tenderness,--
Lingers a spirit in the woods and flowers
Which have a Grecian memory,--some tale
Of olden love or grief linked with their bloom,
Seem beautiful beyond all other ones.
The marble pillars are laid in the dust,
The golden shrine and its perfume are gone;
But there are natural temples still for those
Eternal though dethroned Deities,
Where from green altars flowers send up their incense:
This fount is one of them. - - -
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on November 25, 2015

1:49 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 1,957
Words 362
Stanzas 2
Stanza Lengths 6, 39

Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Letitia Elizabeth Landon was an English poet. Born 14th August 1802 at 25 Hans Place, Chelsea, she lived through the most productive period of her life nearby, at No.22. A precocious child with a natural gift for poetry, she was driven by the financial needs of her family to become a professional writer and thus a target for malicious gossip (although her three children by William Jerdan were successfully hidden from the public). In 1838, she married George Maclean, governor of Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast, whence she travelled, only to die a few months later (15th October) of a fatal heart condition. Behind her post-Romantic style of sentimentality lie preoccupations with art, decay and loss that give her poetry its characteristic intensity and in this vein she attempted to reinterpret some of the great male texts from a woman’s perspective. Her originality rapidly led to her being one of the most read authors of her day and her influence, commencing with Tennyson in England and Poe in America, was long-lasting. However, Victorian attitudes led to her poetry being misrepresented and she became excluded from the canon of English literature, where she belongs. more…

All Letitia Elizabeth Landon poems | Letitia Elizabeth Landon Books

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Discuss this Letitia Elizabeth Landon poem with the community:

  • Peter Bolton
    Peter Bolton
    This wonderfull poem is like a mirror within a mirror, an illusion viewed through an illusion. You may be able to visit Wordsworth's daffodils but there is one single spot where you can witness the Thessalian Fountain and that is in this poem. 
    LikeReplyReport2 years ago
  • Peter Bolton
    Peter Bolton
    A magnificent poem that almost encapsulates the whole of Greek mythology in just a few words: 'these days of visible poetry'. Clever stage setting leads the reader to 'one single spot' whence the past can be reflected upon, and in one sense the poem itself becomes the fountain of which it speaks. 
    LikeReplyReport6 years ago


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"The Thessalian Fountain" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 30 Jan. 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/44108/the-thessalian-fountain>.

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