Letitia Elizabeth Landon ( )

The Indian Girl, or, She Sat Alone Beside Her Hearth

SHE sat alone beside her hearth
    For many nights alone;
She slept not on the pleasant couch
    Where fragrant herbs were strewn.

At first she bound her raven hair
    With feather and with shell;
But then she hoped; at length, like night,
    Around her neck it fell.

They saw her wandering mid the woods,
    Lone, with the cheerless dawn,
And then they said, "Can this be her
    We called 'The Startled Fawn'? "

Her heart was in her large sad eyes,
    Half sunshine and half shade;
And love, as love first springs to life,
    Of every thing afraid.

The red leaf far more heavily
    Fell down to autumn earth,
Than her light feet, which seemed to move
    To music and to mirth.

With the light feet of early youth,
    What hopes and joys depart!
Ah! nothing like the heavy step
    Betrays the heavy heart.

It is a usual history
    That Indian girl could tell;
Fate sets apart one common doom
    For all who love too well.

The proudthe shythe sensitive,
    Life has not many such;
They dearly buy their happiness,
    By feeling it too much.

A stranger to her forest home,
    That fair young stranger came;
They raised for him the funeral song
    For him the funeral flame.

Love sprang from pity,and her arms
    Around his arms she threw;
She told her father, "If he dies,
    Your daughter dieth too."

For her sweet sake they set him free
    He lingered at her side;
And many a native song yet tells
    Of that pale stranger's bride.

Two years have passedhow much two years
    Have taken in their flight!
They've taken from the lip its smile,
    And from the eye its light.

Poor child! she was a child in years
    So timid and so young;
With what a fond and earnest faith
    To desperate hope she clung!

His eyes grew coldhis voice grew strange
    They only grew more dear.
She served him meekly, anxiously,
    With lovehalf faithhalf fear.

And can a fond and faithful heart
    Be worthless in those eyes
For which it beats?Ah! wo to those
    Who such a heart despise.

Poor child! what lonely days she pass'd,
    With nothing to recall
But bitter taunts, and careless words,
    And looks more cold than all.

Alas! for love, that sits at home,
    Forsaken, and yet fond;
The grief that sits beside the hearth
    Life has no grief beyond.

He left her, but she followed him
    She thought he could not bear,
When she had left her home for him,
    To look on her despair.

Adown the strange and mighty stream
    She took her lonely way;
The stars at night her pilots were,
    As was the sun by day.

Yet mournfullyhow mournfully!
    The Indian look'd behind,
When the last sound of voice or step
    Died on the midnight wind,

Yet still adown the gloomy stream
    She plied her weary oar;
Her husbandhe had left their home,
    And it was home no more.

She found himbut she found in vain
    He spurned her from his side;
He said, her brow was all too dark,
    For her to be his bride.

She grasped his hands,her own were cold,
    And silent turned away,
As she had not a tear to shed,
    And not a word to say.

And pale as death she reached her boat,
    And guided it along;
With broken voice she strove to raise
    A melancholy song.

None watched the lonely Indian girl,
    She passed unmark'd of all,
Until they saw her slight canoe
    Approach the mighty Fall!

Upright, within that slender boat
    They saw the pale girl stand,
Her dark hair streaming far behind
    Upraised her desperate hand.

The air is filled with shriek and shout
    They call, but call in vain;
The boat amid the waters dash'd
    'Twas never seen again!

Letitia Elizabeth Landon's other poems:
  1. To Sir John Doyle, Bart
  2. Portrait
  3. Ideal Likenesses. Ariadne
  4. Age and Youth
  5. The Tournament

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