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Poem by Letitia Elizabeth Landon


Fable


   [Imitated from the French of La Motte]

Four souls, that on earth had just yielded their breath,
Were by Mercury led to the regions of death:
A father, who left wife and children behind,
A hero, a poet, their honours resign'd;
A maiden, to whom the cold death-warrant came
At the critical moment of changing her name.

Oh, love! cried the fair, I less mourn for my doom,
Than for the dear youth who now weeps o'er my tomb;
For soon will his ashes, commingled with mine,
Seal vows, so oft plighted, at constancy's shrine.
Alas! quoth the sire, at this moment I see
My wife and my children lamenting for me;
The thought of their sorrow's despair to my soul;
May heaven, in pity, their anguish console!
And what is their grief, pray?the hero replied;
What are you?a poor pitiful ghost by my side.
From the north frozen desert, to Africa's sands,
Unrivall'd my name crown'd with victory stands.
Who is there on earth, whose presumption dares claim
A glory like mine, in the annals of fame?
I dare! said the poet; oh! ever will bloom,
The justly gain'd laurels that twine round my tomb:

The trophies I've won are more durable far,
Than the splendour which glitters round victory's car;
Long ages to come, will remember my strain;
Oh! when will a harp, like to mine, wake again!
Indeed, cried the god, I half grieve to dispel
Illusions, which now seem to please you so well;
But know, my fair maiden, your well belov'd youth
Has wedded another,great proof of his truth:
And, father, instead of regretting your fate,
Your children, at law squabble for your estate;
Your wife seems to think you no very great loss,
For, as you grew old, you grew stingy and cross.
And, general, already your laurels decay
Fresh wreaths are adorning the chief of the day:
And you, my fine poet, who thought that the earth
To another such minstrel could never give birth,
Already your works are all thrown on the shelf,
And their author condemn'd as an ignorant elf.
Yes; look thro' the world, and this truth you will find
That, once out of sight, you are soon out of mind.



Letitia Elizabeth Landon


Letitia Elizabeth Landon's other poems:
  1. Amelioration and the Future, Man's Noble Tasks
  2. Fragment (It is not spring, but still the new-come year)
  3. The Tournament
  4. The Nameless Grave
  5. Cafes in Damascus


Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • John Gay Fable ("A Milk-white Swan, in Aesops time")

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