Classics  
English    1775 - 1864   
Walter Savage Landor was an English writer and poet. His best known works were the prose Imaginary Conversations, and the poem Rose Aylmer, but the critical acclaim he received from contemporary poets and reviewers was not matched by public popularity. As remarkable as his work was, it was equaled by ... Read more
Walter Savage Landor was an English writer and poet. His best known works were the prose Imaginary Conversations, and the poem Rose Aylmer, but the critical acclaim he received from contemporary poets and reviewers was not matched by public popularity. As remarkable as his work was, it was equaled by ... Read more

Death stands above me, whispering low
I know not what into my ear:
Of his strange language all I know
Is, there is not a word of fear.

You smiled, you spoke, and I believed,
By every word and smile deceived.
Another man would hope no more;
Nor hope I what I hoped before:
But let not this last wish be vain;
Deceive, deceive me once again!

I strove with none, for none was worth my strife.
Nature I loved and, next to Nature, Art:
I warm'd both hands before the fire of life;
It sinks, and I am ready to depart.

Death stands above me, whispering low
I know not what into my ear:
Of his strange language all I know
Is, there is not a word of fear.

The chrysolites and rubies Bacchus brings
To crown the feast where swells the broad-vein'd  brow,
Where maidens blush at what the minstrel sings,
They who have coveted may covet now.

Bring me, in cool alcove, the grape uncrush'd,
The peach of pulpy cheek and down mature,
Where every voice (but bird's or child's) is hush'd,
  And every thought, like the brook nigh, runs pure.

I strove with none; for none was worth my strife;
  Nature I loved, and next to Nature, Art;
I warmed both hands before the fire of life;
  It sinks, and I am ready to depart.

Mother, I cannot mind my wheel;
My fingers ache, my lips are dry:
Oh! if you felt the pain I feel!
But oh, who ever felt as I?

No longer could I doubt him true;
All other men may use deceit:
He always said my eyes were blue,
And often swore my lips were sweet.

Why, why repine, my pensive friend,
At pleasures slipp'd away?
Some the stern Fates will never lend,
And all refuse to stay.

I see the rainbow in the sky,
The dew upon the grass,
I see them, and I ask not why
They glimmer or they pass.

With folded arms I linger not
To call them back; 'twere vain;
In this, or in some other spot,
I know they'll shine again.

Past ruined Ilion Helen lives,
Alcestis rises from the shades.
Verse calls them forth; 'tis verse that gives
Immortal youth to mortal maids.

Soon shall oblivion's deepening veil
Hide all the peopled hills you see,
The gay, the proud, while lovers hail
These many summers you and me.

Well I remember how you smiled
To see me write your name upon
The soft sea-sand . . . "O! what a child!
You think you're writing upon stone!"

I have since written what no tide
Shall ever wash away, what men
Unborn shall read o'er ocean wide
And find Ianthe's name again.

Here, where precipitate Spring with one light bound
Into hot Summer's lusty arms expires;
And where go forth at morn, at eve, at night,
Soft airs, that want the lute to play with them,
And softer sighs, that know not what they want;
Under a wall, beneath an orange-tree
Whose tallest flowers could tell the lowlier ones
Of sights in Fiesole right up above,
While I was gazing a few paces off
At what they seemed to show me with their nods,
Their frequent whispers and their pointing shoots,
A gentle maid came down the garden-steps
And gathered the pure treasure in her lap.
I heard the branches rustle, and stept forth
To drive the ox away, or mule, or goat,
(Such I believed it must be); for sweet scents
Are the swift vehicles of still sweeter thoughts,
And nurse and pillow the dull memory
That would let drop without them her best stores.
They bring me tales of youth and tones of love,
And 'tis and ever was my wish and way
To let all flowers live freely, and all die,
Whene'er their Genius bids their souls depart,
Among their kindred in their native place.
I never pluck the rose; the violet's head
Hath shaken with my breath upon its bank
And not reproacht me; the ever-sacred cup
Of the pure lily hath between my hands
Felt safe, unsoil'd, nor lost one grain of gold.
I saw the light that made the glossy leaves
More glossy; the fair arm, the fairer cheek
Warmed by the eye intent on its pursuit;
I saw the foot, that, altho half-erect
From its grey slipper, could not lift her up
To what she wanted: I held down a branch
Was come, and bees had wounded them, and flies
Of harder wing were working their way thro
And scattering them in fragments under foot.
So crisp were some, they rattled unevolved,
Others, ere broken off, fell into shells,
For such appear the petals when detacht,
Unbending, brittle, lucid, white like snow,
And like snow not seen thro, by eye or sun:
Was fairer than the first . . I thought not so,
But so she praised them to reward my care.
I said: you find the largest.

This indeed,
Cried she, is large and sweet.

She held one forth,
Whether for me to look at or to take
She knew not, nor did I; but taking it
Would best have solved (and this she felt) her doubts.
I dared not touch it; for it seemed a part
Of her own self; fresh, full, the most mature
Of blossoms, yet a blossom; with a touch
To fall, and yet unfallen.

She drew back
The boon she tendered, and then, finding not
The ribbon at her waist to fix it in,
Dropt it, as loth to drop it, on the rest.

Stand close around, ye Stygian set,
With Dirce in one boat conveyed!
Or Charon, seeing, may forget
That he is old and she a shade.

When the buds began to burst,
Long ago, with Rose the First
I was walking; joyous then
Far above all other men,
Till before us up there stood
Britonferry's oaken wood,
Whispering, "Happy as thou art,
Happiness and thou must part."
Many summers have gone by
Since a Second Rose and I
(Rose from the same stem) have told
This and other tales of old.
She upon her wedding day
Carried home my tenderest lay:
From her lap I now have heard
Gleeful, chirping, Rose the Third.
Not for her this hand of mine
Rhyme with nuptial wreath shall twine;
Cold and torpid it must lie,
Mute the tongue, and closed the eye.

Smiles soon abate; the boisterous throes
  Of anger long burst forth;
Inconstantly the south-wind blows,
  But steadily the north.

Thy star, O Venus! often changes
  Its radiant seat above,
The chilling pole-star never ranges --
  'Tis thus with Hate and Love.

There is a mountain and a wood between us,
Where the lone shepherd and late bird have seen us
  Morning and noon and eventide repass.
Between us now the mountain and the wood
Seem standing darker than last year they stood,
  And say we must not cross--alas! alas!

To my ninth decade I have tottered on,
  And no soft arm bends now my steps to steady;
She, who once led me where she would, is gone,
  So when he calls me, Death shall find me ready.

From you, Ianthe, little troubles pass
  Like little ripples down a sunny river;
Your pleasures spring like daisies in the grass,
  Cut down, and up again as blithe as ever.

Struggling, and faint, and fainter didst thou wane,
O Moon! and round thee all thy starry train
Came forth to help thee, with half-open eyes,
And trembled every one with still surprise,
That the black Spectre should have dared assail
Their beauteous queen and seize her sacred veil.

One lovely name adorns my song,
And, dwelling in the heart,
Forever falters at the tongue,
And trembles to depart.

MILD is the parting year, and sweet
   The odour of the falling spray;
Life passes on more rudely fleet,
   And balmless is its closing day.

I wait its close, I court its gloom,
   But mourn that never must there fall
Or on my breast or on my tomb
   The tear that would have soothed it all.

 
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