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Letitia Elizabeth Landon (Летиция Элизабет Лэндон)

The Reply of the Fountain

HOW deep within each human heart,
    A thousand treasured feelings lie;
Things precious, delicate, apart,
    Too sensitive for human eye.

Our purest feelings, and our best,
    Yet shrinking from the common view;
Rarely except in song exprest,
    And yet how tender, and how true!

They wake, and know their power, when eve
    Flings on the west its transient glow;
Yet long dark shadows dimly weave
    A gloom round some green path below.

Who dreams not then—the young dream on—
    Life traced at hope's delicious will;
And those whose youth of heart is gone,
    Perhaps have visions dearer still.

They rise, too, when expected least,
    When gay yourself, amid the gay,
The heart from revelry hath ceased
    To muse o'er hours long past away.

And who can think upon the past
    And not weep o'er it as a grave?
How many leaves life's wreath has cast!
    What lights have sunk beneath the wave!

But most these deep emotions rise
    When, drooping o'er our thoughts alone,
Our former dearest sympathies
    Come back, and claim us for their own.

Such mood is on the maiden's mind
    Who bends o'er yon clear fount her brow;
Long years, that leave their trace behind,
    Long years, are present with her now.

Yet, once before she asked a sign
    From that wild fountain's plaintive song;
And silvery, with the soft moonshine,
    Those singing waters past along.

It was an hour of beauty, made
    For the young heart's impassioned mood,
For love of its sweet self afraid,
    For hope that colours solitude.

"Alas," the maiden sighed, "since first
    I said, Oh fountain, read my doom;
What vainest fancies have I nurst,
    Of which I am myself the tomb!

"The love was checked—the hope was vain,
    I deemed that I could feel no more;
Why, false one, did we meet again,
    To show thine influence was not o'er?

"I thought that I could never weep
    Again, as I had wept for thee,
That love was buried cold and deep,
    That pride and scorn kept watch by me.

"My early hopes, my early tears
    Were now almost forgotten things,
And other cares, and other years
    Had brought what all experience brings—

"Indifference, weariness, disdain,
    That taught and ready smile which grows
A habit soon—as streams retain
    The shape and light in which they froze.

"Again I met that faithless eye,
    Again I heard that charmed tongue;
I felt they were my destiny,
    I knew again the spell they flung.

"Ah! years have fled, since last his name
    Was breathed amid the twilight dim;
It was to dream of him I came,
    And now again I dream of him.

"But changed and cold, my soul has been
    Too deeply wrung, too long unmoved,
Too hardened in life's troubled scene
    To love as I could once have loved.

"Sweet fountain, once I asked thy waves
    To whisper hope's enchanted spell;
Now I but ask thy haunted caves
    To teach me how to say farewell."

She leaned her head upon her hand,
    She gazed upon that fountain lone
Which wandered by its wild-flower strand
    With a low, mournful, ceaseless moan.

It soothed her with a sweet deceit
    Of pity, murmured on the breeze;
Ah deep the grief, which seeks to cheat
    Itself with fantasies like these.

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

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