Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
Fiesolan Idyl
 
Walter Savage Landor (1775–1864)
 
 
HERE, where precipitate Spring with one light bound
Into hot Summer’s lusty arms expires,
And where go forth at morn, at eve, at night,
Soft airs that want the lute to play with ’em,
And softer sighs that know not what they want,        5
Aside a wall, beneath an orange-tree,
Whose tallest flowers could tell the lowlier ones
Of sights in Fiesole right up above,
While I was gazing a few paces off
At what they seem’d to show me with their nods,        10
Their frequent whispers and their pointing shoots,
A gentle maid came down the garden-steps
And gather’d the pure treasure in her lap.
I heard the branches rustle, and stepp’d forth
To drive the ox away, or mule, or goat,        15
Such I believ’d it must be. How could I
Let beast o’erpower them? when hath wind or rain
Borne hard upon weak plant that wanted me,
And I (however they might bluster round)
Walk’d off? ’T were most ungrateful: for sweet scents        20
Are the swift vehicles of still sweeter thoughts,
And nurse and pillow the dull memory
That would let drop without them her best stores.
They bring me tales of youth and tones of love,
And ’t is and ever was my wish and way        25
To let all flowers live freely, and all die
(Whene’er their Genius bids their souls depart)
Among their kindred in their native place.
I never pluck the rose; the violet’s head
Hath shaken with my breath upon its bank        30
And not reproach’d me; the ever-sacred cup
Of the pure lily hath between my hands
Felt safe, unsoil’d, nor lost one grain of gold.
I saw the light that made the glossy leaves
More glossy; the fair arm, the fairer cheek        35
Warm’d by the eye intent on its pursuit;
I saw the foot that, although half-erect
From its gray slipper, could not lift her up
To what she wanted: I held down a branch
And gather’d her some blossoms; since their hour        40
Was come, and bees had wounded them, and flies
Of harder wing were working their way through
And scattering them in fragments under foot.
So crisp were some, they rattled unevolv’d,
Others, ere broken off, fell into shells,        45
Unbending, brittle, lucid, white like snow,
And like snow not seen through, by eye or sun:
Yet every one her gown receiv’d from me
Was fairer than the first. I thought not so,
But so she prais’d them to reward my care.        50
I said, “You find the largest.”
        “This indeed,”
Cried she, “is large and sweet.” She held one forth,
Whether for me to look at or to take
She knew not, nor did I; but taking it        55
Would best have solv’d (and this she felt) her doubt.
I dar’d not touch it; for it seem’d a part
Of her own self; fresh, full, the most mature
Of blossoms, yet a blossom; with a touch
To fall, and yet unfallen. She drew back        60
The boon she tender’d, and then, finding not
The ribbon at her waist to fix it in,
Dropp’d it, as loth to drop it, on the rest.
 

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