Landon in The New Monthly 1836/Ariosto to his Mistress

Landon in The New Monthly 1836 (1836)
by Letitia Elizabeth Landon
Ariosto to his Mistress
2397447Landon in The New Monthly 1836 — Ariosto to his Mistress1836Letitia Elizabeth Landon


The New Monthly Magazine, Volume 46, Pages 441 to 442


[Ariosto is supposed to have written his celebrated Poem at the command of some unknown beauty. On his inkstand was a Cupid with the finger on his lips.]

"He who told
Of fair Olympia, loved and left of old."

I send thee, my beloved one,
    Another song of mine;
Methinks the sweetest I have won
    To offer at thy shrine.

I pray thee borrow tears from sleep
    For young Olympia's woe;
As angels pause in heaven to weep
    O'er grief they cannot know.

Weep for the fate which is to thee
    But like a troubled dream;
Thou knowest not how hearts can be
    Wrecked on life's faithless stream.

Ah! some are born to love and pine,
    And some to love and reign;
Brightest—imperial rule is thine
    Within love's wide domain.

Thou art a queen in thy command,
    Whose sway is smiles and sighs;
The languid wave of that white hand
    The sceptre's state supplies.

I see thee now in that fair room
    Where thou wilt read this scroll:
The faint lamp scarcely breaks the gloom
    Which wraps the haunted whole,

A lovely indistinctness flings
    Its charm around the place,
As if the shadow of love's wings
    Had left their fairy trace.

And ever and anon the wind
    Flings back the fragrant shade,
That jessamine and myrtle twined
    Have round the casement made.

When light and perfume comrades meet
    Their flitting entrance win,
Fair—sweet—but still more fair and sweet
    Whene'er they enter in.

For smiling in her silvery noon
    Looks down night's conscious queen—
But silence—oh, thou trusted moon,
    On all that thou hast seen.

To-night it matters not—to-night
    Thou'lt only see alone,
A lady in whose eyes the light
    Is lovely as thine own.

Is it not—dearest? thou canst tell
    How very fair thou art:
That face—ah, thou must know it well,
    Whose mirror is my heart.

What hours—what moonlit hours have pass'd
    Thy fairy feet beside;
While the long lash its shadow cast
    O'er eyes it could not hide.

When your cheek's native paleness wore
    The rose's transient hue;
And thy red lip—but hush, no more,
    I must not picture you!

Be still our love—a thing unknown,
    It is a flower too rare
To be in common daylight shown,
    To meet the sun and air.

I keep thee with all holier thought,
    The dreaming and the deep;
That not from earth but heaven are brought,
    O'er which we watch and weep.

My hopes, my music and my tears
    Whatever in my line,
Soothes, softens—elevates, endears,
    Are thine and only thine!

Take then my song, and claim thy part,
    Where thou hast lent thy grace—
It caught its music from thy heart,
    Its beauty from thy face.

L. E. L.