The Troubadour. Canto 4 D (The Contest)

Alas for her whom ev'ry eye
Worshipp'd like a divinity!
Alas for her whose ear was fill'd
With flatteries like sweet woods distill'd!
Alas for EVA! bloom and beam,
Music and mirth, came like a dream,
In which she mingled not,—apart
From all in heaviness of heart.
There were soft tales pour'd in her ear,
She look'd on many a cavalier,
Wander'd her eye round the glad scene,
It was as if they had not been;—
To ear, eye, heart, there only came
Her RAYMOND'S image, RAYMOND'S name!

    There is a flower, a snow-white flower,
Fragile as if a morning shower
Would end its being, and the earth
Forget to what it gave a birth;
And it looks innocent and pale,
Slight as the least force could avail
To pluck it from its bed, and yet
Its root in depth and strength is set.
The July sun, the autumn rain,
Beat on its slender stalk in vain;—
Around it spreads, despite of care,
Till the whole garden is its share;
And other plants must fade and fall
Beneath its deep and deadly thrall.
This is love's emblem; it is nurst
In all unconciousness at first,
Too slight, too fair, to wake distrust;
No sign how that an after hour
Will rue and weep its fatal power.
'Twas thus with EVA; she had dream'd
Of love as his first likeness seem'd,
A sweet thought o'er which she might brood,
The treasure of her solitude;
But tidings of young RAYMOND'S fate
Waken'd her from her dream too late,
Even her timid love could be
The ruling star of destiny.
And when a calmer mood prevail'd
O'er that whose joy her father hail'd,
Too well he saw how day by day
Some other emblem of decay
Came on her lip, and o'er her brow,
Which only she would disallow;
The cheek the lightest word could flush
Not with health's rose, but the heart's gush
Of feverish anxiousness; he caught
At the least hope, and vainly sought
By change, by pleasure, to dispel
Her sorrow from its secret cell.
In vain;—what can reanimate
A heart too early desolate?
It had been his, it could not save,
But it could follow to his grave.

    The trumpets peal'd their latest round,
Stole from the flutes a softer sound,
Swell'd the harp to each master's hand,
As onward came the minstrel band!
And many a bright cheek grew more bright,
And many a dark eye flash'd with light,
As bent the minstrel o'er his lute,
And urged the lover's plaining suit,
Or swept a louder chord, and gave
Some glorious history of the brave.

    At last from 'mid the crowd one came,
Unknown himself, unknown his name,
Both knight and bard,—the stranger wore
The garb of a young Troubadour;
His dark green mantle loosely flung,
Conceal'd the form o'er which it hung;
And his cap, with its shadowy plume,
Hid his face by its raven gloom.
Little did EVA'S careless eye
Dream that it wander'd RAYMOND by,
Though his first tone thrill'd every vein,
It only made her turn again,
Forget the scene, the song, and dwell
But on what memory felt too well.


    IN some valley low and lone,
    Where I was the only one
    Of the human dwellers there,
    Would I dream away my care:
    I'd forget how in the world
    Snakes lay amid roses curl'd,
    I'd forget my once distress
    For young Love's insidiousness.
    False foes, and yet falser friends,
    Seeming but for their own ends;
    Pleasures known but by their wings,
    Yet remember'd by their stings;
    Gold's decrease, and health's decay,
    I will fly like these away,
    To some lovely solitude,
    Where the nightingale's young brood
    Lives amid the shrine of leaves,
    Which the wild rose round them weaves,
    And my dwelling shall be made
    Underneath the beech-tree's shade.
    Twining ivy for the walls
    Over which the jasmine falls,
    Like a tapestry work'd with gold
    And pearls around each emerald fold:
    And my couches shall be set
    With the purple violet,
    And the white ones too, inside
    Each a blush to suit a bride.
    That flower which of all that live,
    Lovers, should be those who give,
    Primroses, for each appears
    Pale and wet with many tears.
    Alas tears and pallid check
    All too often love bespeak!
    There the gilderose should fling
    Silver treasures to the spring,
    And the bright laburnum's tresess [tresses]
    Seeking the young wind's caresses;
    In the midst an azure lake,
    Where no oar e'er dips to break
    The clear bed of its blue rest,
    Where the halcyon builds her nest;
    And amid the sedges green,
    And the water-flag's thick screen,
    The solitary swan resides;
    And the bright kingfisher hides,
    With its colours rich like those
    Which the bird of India shows.—
    Once I thought that I would seek
    Some fair creature, young and meek,
    Whose most gentle smile would bless
    My too utter loneliness;
    But I then remember'd all
    I had suffer'd from Love's thrall,
    And I thought I 'd not again
    Enter in the lion's den;
    But, with my wrung heart now free,
    So I thought I still will be.
    Love is like a kingly dome,
    Yet too often sorrow's home;
    Sometimes smiles, but oftener tears,
    Jealousies, and hopes, and fears,
    A sweet liquor sparkling up,
    But drank from a poison'd cup.
    Would you guard your heart from care
    Love must never enter there.
    I will dwell with summer flowers,
    Fit friends for the summer hours,
    My companions honey-bees,
    And birds, and buds, and leaves, and trees,
    And the dew of the twilight,
    And the thousand stars of night:
    I will cherish that sweet gift,
    The least earthly one now left
    Of the gems of Paradise,
    Poesy's delicious sighs.
    Ill may that soft spirit bear
    Crowds' or cities' healthless air;
    Was not her sweet breathing meant
    To echo the low murmur sent
    By the flowers, and by the rill,
    When all save the wind is still?
    As if to tell of those fair things
    High thoughts, pure imaginings,
    That recall how bright, how fair,
    In our other state we were.
    And at last, when I have spent
    A calm life in mild content,
    May my spirit pass away
    As the early leaves decay:
    Spring shakes her gay coronal,
    One sweet breath, and then they fall.
    Only let the red-breast bring
    Moss to strew me with, and sing
    One low mournful dirge to tell
    I have bid the world farewell.

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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on September 01, 2016

Modified on March 05, 2023

5:41 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme Text too long
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 6,153
Words 1,083
Stanzas 6
Stanza Lengths 14, 43, 10, 14, 1, 96

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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