A Poem of Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L. E. L.) in Forget Me Not, 1837/The Sleeping Beauty


Painted by J. WoodEngraved by F. Bacon


BY. L. E. L.

Sleep with honey-dews hath bound her,
    Sleep unwaked by day;
Through the forest growing round her
    None may take their way,
For it is a path forbidden
    By the words of power;
There the beauty must be hidden
    Till the appointed hour;
Till the young deliverer cometh,
And the maiden life resumeth.

Purple fruit and golden chalice
    Lie upon the floor;
For, in that enchanted palace,
    All is as before.
There still is the censer burning,
    With its perfumed flame;
Years on many years returning,
    See it still the same;
It will burn till light re-living
In those closed eyes quench its giving.

There her ivory lute, too, slumbers
    On the haunted ground,

Silent are its once sweet numbers,
    Like all things around;
On her cheek the rose is breathing
    With its softest red;
And the auburn hair is wreathing
    Round the graceful head:
Changeth not that rosy shade,
Stirreth not that auburn braid.

Hath the wild west wind then only
    Leave to come and weep?
Is the lovely one left lonely
    To her charmed sleep?
No, when yon full moon has risen
    O'er the azure lake,
Cometh one to that sweet prison
    For the sleeper's sake;
On that only moonlit hour
Hath the gentle fairy power.

Then she calls fair spirits nigh her,
    Each one with a dream,
So with sweet thoughts to supply her,
    And those shadows seem
Real as life, but that each vision
    Hath a lovelier ray,
More etherial and elysian
    Than earth's common day.
Human thoughts and feelings keep
Life in that enchanted sleep.

Soon o'er that dark pine and laurel
    Will a youth prevail:
Is there not a gentle moral
    In that fairy tale?
Like that maiden's sleep unwaking,
    Slumbereth woman's heart,
Till Love comes, that slumber breaking
    For life's loveliest part.
Ah, the heart which it must waken
Soon will mourn its rest forsaken!