THE FORGOTTEN ONE

Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802 – 1838) was a prolific published poet, author and playwright. This transcription of the poem is taken from The British Women Romantic Poets Project – a digital initiative of the University of California Davis General Library. ‘The Forgotten One’ is one of the ‘Fugitive Pieces’ from The Vow of the Peacock published in 1835.

The writing on this Grade II listed tablet is quite faded, with some parts hard to read, but the poem is as follows:

 

 

 

 

No shadow rests upon the place
Where once thy footsteps roved;
Nor leaf, nor blossom, bear a trace
Of how thou wert beloved.
The very night dew disappears
Too soon, as if it spared its tears.

Thou art forgotten!–thou, whose feet
Were listen’d for like song!
They used to call thy voice so sweet;–
It did not haunt them long.
Thou, with thy fond and fairy mirth–
How could they bear their lonely hearth!

There is no picture to recall
Thy glad and open brow;
No profiled outline on the wall
Seems like thy shadow now;
They have not even kept to wear
One ringlet of thy golden hair.

When here we shelter’d last, appears
But just like yesterday;
It startles me to think that years
Since then are pass’d away.
The old oak tree that was our tent,
No leaf seems changed, no bough seems rent.

A shower in June–a summer shower,
Drove us beneath the shade;
A beautiful and greenwood bower
The spreading branches made.
The raindrops shine upon the bough,
The passing rain–but where art thou?

But I forget how many showers
Have wash’d this old oak tree,
The winter and the summer hours,
Since I stood here with thee:
And I forget how chance a thought
Thy memory to my heart has brought.

I talk of friends who once have wept,
As if they still should weep;
I speak of grief that long has slept,
As if it could not sleep;
Have I, myself, forgotten less?

I’ve mingled with the young and fair,
Nor thought how there was laid
One fair and young as any there,
In silence and in shade.
How could I see a sweet mouth shine
With smiles, and not remember thine?

Ah! it is well we can forget,
Or who could linger on
Beneath a sky whose stars are set,
On earth whose flowers are gone?
For who could welcome loved ones near,
Thinking of those once far more dear,

Our early friends, those of our youth?
We cannot feel again
The earnest love, the simple truth,
Which made us such friends then.
We grow suspicious, careless, cold;
We love not as we loved of old.

No more a sweet necessity,
Love must and will expand,
Loved and beloving we must be,
With open heart and hand,
Which only ask to trust and share
The deep affections which they bear.

Our love was of that early time;
And now that it is past,
It breathes as of a purer clime
Than where my lot is cast.
My eyes fill with their sweetest tears
In thinking of those early years.

It shock’d me first to see the sun
Shine gladly o’er thy tomb;
To see the wild flowers o’er it run
In such luxuriant bloom.
Now I feel glad that they should keep
A bright sweet watch above thy sleep.

The heaven whence thy nature came
Only recall’d its own; It is
Hope that now breathes thy name,
Though borrowing Memory’s tone.
I feel this earth could never be
The native home of one like thee.

Farewell! the early dews that fall
Upon thy grass-grown bed
Are like the thoughts that now recall
Thine image from the dead. A blessing hallows thy dark cell–
I will not stay to weep. Farewell!

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