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The Bayadere. An Indian Tale (2) Ending

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

The moonlight is on a little bower,
With wall and with roof of leaf and of flower,
Built of that green and holy tree
Which heeds not how rude the storm may be.
Like a bridal canopy over head
The jasmines their slender wreathings spread,
One with stars as ivory white,
The other with clusters of amber light;
Rose-trees four grew by the wall,
Beautiful each, but different all:
One with that pure but crimson flush
That marks the maiden's first love blush;
By its side grew another one,
Pale as the snow of the funeral stone;
The next was rich with the damask dye
Of a monarch's purple drapery;
And the last had leaves like those leaves of gold
Worked on that drapery's royal fold.
Three or four vases, with blossoms filled,
Like censers of incense, their fragrance distilled;
Lilies, heaped like the pearls of the sea,
Peeped from their large leaves' security;
Hyacinths with their graceful bells,
Where the spirit of odour dwells
Like the spirit of music in ocean shells;
And tulips, with every colour that shines
In the radiant gems of Serendib's mines:
One tulip was found in every wreath,
That one most scorched by the summer's breath,
Whose passionate leaves with their ruby glow
Hide the heart that lies burning and black below.
And there, beneath the flowered shade
By a pink acacia made,
MANDALLA lay, and by his side,
With eye and breath and blush that vied
With the star and with the flower
In their own and loveliest hour,
Was that fair Bayadere, the dove
Yet nestling in her long black hair:
She has now more than that to love,
And the loved one sat by her there.
And by the sweet acacia porch
They drank the softness of the breeze,--
Oh more than lovely are love's dreams,
'Mid lights and blooms and airs like these!
And sometimes she would leave his side,
And like a spirit round him glide:
A light shawl wreathed now round her brow,
Now waving from her hand of snow,
Now zoned around her graceful waist,
And now like fetters round her placed;
And then, flung suddenly aside,
Her many curls, instead, unbound,
Waved in fantastic braids, till loosed,
Her long dark tresses swept the ground;
Then, changing from the soft slow step,
Her white feet bounded on the wind
Like gleaming silver, and her hair
Like a dark banner swept behind;
Or with her sweet voice, sweet like a bird's
When it pours forth its first song in spring,
The one like an echo to the other,
She answered the sigh of her soft lute-string,
And with eyes that darkened in gentlest tears,
Like the dewy light in the dark-eyed dove,
Would she sing those sorrowing songs that breathe
Some history of unhappy love.
"Yes, thou art mine!" MANDALLA said,--
"I have lighted up love in thy youthful heart;
"I taught thee its tenderness, now I must teach
"Its faith, its grief, and its gloomier part;
"And then, from thy earth-stains purified,
"In my star and my hall shalt thou reign my bride."

It was an evening soft and fair,
As surely those in Eden are,
When, bearing spoils of leaf and a flower,
Entered the Bayadere her bower;
Her love lay sleeping, as she thought,
And playfully a bunch she caught
Of azure hyacinth bells, and o'er
His face she let the blossoms fall:
"Why I am jealous of thy dreams,
"Awaken at thy AZA's call."
No answer came from him whose tone
Had been the echo of her own.
She spoke again,--no words came forth;
She clasped his hand,--she raised his head,--
One wild loud scream, she sank beside,
As pale, as cold, almost as dead!

By the Ganges raised, for the morning sun
To shed his earliest beams upon,
Is a funeral pile,--around it stand
Priests and the hired mourners' band.
But who is she that so wildly prays
To share the couch and light the blaze?
MANDALLA's love, while scornful eye
And chilling jeers mock her agony:
An Alma girl! oh shame, deep shame,
To Brahma's race and Brahma's name!
Unmarked, unpitied, she turned aside,
For a moment her bursting tears to hide.
None thought of the Bayadere, till the fire
Blazed redly and fiercely the funeral pyre,
Then like a thought she darted by,
And sprang on the burning pile to die!

"Now thou art mine! away, away
"To my own bright Star, to my home of Day,"
A dear voice sighed, as he bore her along
Gently as spring breezes bear the song,
"Thy love and thy faith have won for thee
"The breath of immortality.
"Maid of earth, MANDALLA is free to call
"AZA the queen of his heart and hall!"
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on May 20, 2016

4:02 min read
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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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2 Comments

  • Peter Bolton
    Landon doesn't paint the closure. In one sense the priests are the male literary establishment and an Alma, a woman poet.
    LikeReplyReport1 year ago
  • Peter Bolton
    The last painting is a diptych. In bright floral colours we are shown a love nest - no wonder the Victorians didn't want young people reading this! In the second panel though is death.
    LikeReplyReport1 year ago

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"The Bayadere. An Indian Tale (2) Ending" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 25 Sep. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/44791/the-bayadere.-an-indian-tale-(2)-ending>.

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