A Poem of Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L. E. L.) in Heath’s Book of Beauty, 1838/Mrs Wombwell

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Painted by F. RochardEngraved by H. Cook


BY L. E. L.

Ah, Beauty! what a charm hast thou!
    How much art thou allied
To all the visionary glow
    With which is deified
The sweetest things of life's dark stream;
Whose loveliness is half a dream—
    A flower upon the tide;
Within whose haunted leaves up-curled
Are hints of a diviner world!

I never saw that face till now,
    I never heard the name;
Yet, with that carved and graceful brow
    A thousand fancies came.
Within those soft and earnest eyes
A world of hidden feeling lies;
    Those feelings which, like flame,
Upon the face they kindle, write
In lines, half shadow and half light.

It is not that thy face is fair,
    Though fair it is, and young;
But, that the mind and heart have there
    Their own enchantment flung:
And beauty the most beautiful,
Without that inward life, were dull;
    Without the soft shades hung
By pensive thoughts—by moral grace,
That give the spirit to the face.

Young, fair, thou art; oh, very fair!
    Still, on that face appears
The sadness deeper memories wear,
    The tenderness of tears.
These may be fancies suiting not;
But, was there ever human lot
    That knew no troubled years?
Life never was content to bring
The sunshine only to the spring.

This poem was published in The New York Mirror on 13th January, 1838, as