Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Letitia Elizabeth Landon (August 14, 1802 – October 15, 1838) was an English poet and novelist, better known by her initials L. E. L.. She was one of the richest sources of epigrams in the early nineteenth century and one reviewer compared her to Rochefoucauld. Sometimes she adopts an adversarial role, giving contradictory viewpoints. Some of her thoughts recur, either developed or refined but over time, she also threw out differing opinions on some subjects; changeability, she argues, is one of our principal traits and, as she has one character remark, truth is like the philosopher's stone, a thing not to be discovered.

See also
Romance and Reality
Francesca Carrara
Ethel Churchill (or The Two Brides)
Lady Anne Granard (or Keeping up Appearances)



The Fate of Adelaide (1821)Edit

  • Romantic Switzerland! thy scenes are traced
    With characters of strange wild loveliness,
    Beauty and desolation, side by side;
    Here lofty rocks uprise, where nature seems
    To dwell alone in silent majesty;
    Rob'd by the snow, her stately palace fram'd
    Of the white hills; towering in all their pride,
    The frost's gigantic mounds are lost in clouds,
    Like to vast castles rear'd in middle air.
    The ice has sculptur'd too strange imagery—
    Obelisks, columns, spires, fantastic piles;
    Some like the polish'd marble, others clear
    As the rock crystal, others sparkling with
    The hues that melt along the sunborn bow.
    • Canto I, I opening lines
  • And o'er them lowers destruction, high in air,
    Upon those jutting crags, whose rugged sides,
    Riven in fragments, and like ruins pil'd,
    Seem as that giants of those ancient days
    When earthborn creatures braved th' Olympic Gods,
    Those of whom fable tells, had torn away
    Rocks from their solid base, and with strong arm,
    Parted the mountains: there the avalanche hangs,
    Mighty, but tremulous; just a light breath
    Will loosen it from off its airy throne;
    Then down it hurls in wrath, like to the sound
    Of thunder amid storms, or as the voice
    Of rushing waters—death in its career.
    • Canto I, I

The Improvisatrice (1824)Edit

  • I am a daughter of that land,
    Where the poet’s lip and the painter’s hand
    Are most divine, —where the earth and sky,
    Are picture both and poetry—
    I am of Florence.
    • Title Poem
  • Statues but known from shapes of the earth,
    By being too lovely for mortal birth;
    Paintings whose colours of life were caught
    From the fairy tints in the rainbow wrought;
    Music whose sighs had a spell like those
    That float on the sea at the evening’s close
    Language so silvery, that every word
    Was like the lute’s awakening chord;
    • Title Poem
  • My power was but a woman’s power;
    Yet, in that great and glorious dower
    Which Genius gives, I had my part:
    I poured my full and burning heart
    • Title Poem
  • But Love’s bright fount is never pure;
    And all his pilgrims must endure
    All passion’s mighty suffering
    Ere they may reach the blessed spring.
    • Title Poem
  • It was my evil star above,
    Not my sweet lute, that wrought me wrong;
    It was not song that taught me love,
    But it was love that taught me song.
    • Title Poem
  • There are a thousand fanciful things
    Linked round the young heart's imaginings.
    In its first love-dream, a leaf or a flower
    Is gifted then with a spell and a power:
    A shade is an omen, a dream is a sign,
    From which the maiden can well divine
    Passion's whole history.
    • Title Poem
  • It is most sad to watch the fall
    Of autumn leaves!--but worst of all
    It is to watch the flower of spring
    Faded in its fresh blossoming!
    • Title Poem
  • I loved him as young Genius loves,
    When its own wild and radiant heaven
    Of starry thought burns with the light,
    The love, the life, by passion given.
    I loved him, too, as woman loves--
    Reckless of sorrow, sin, or scorn:
    Life had no evil destiny
    That, with him, I could not have borne!
    • Title Poem
  • Hope is love's happiness, but not its life;—
    How many hearts have nourished a vain flame
    In silence and in secret, though they knew
    They fed the scorching fire that would consume them!
    • The Minstrel of Portugal
  • It is a night of summer,—and the sea
    Sleeps, like a child, in mute tranquillity.
    Soft o'er the deep-blue wave the moonlight breaks;
    Gleaming, from out the white clouds of its zone,
    • Rosalie.
  • Then they were silent:—words are little aid
    To Love, whose deepest vows are ever made
    By the heart's beat alone. Oh, silence is
    Love's own peculiar eloquence of bliss!
    • Rosalie.
  • How very desolate that breast must be,
    Whose only joyance is in memory!
    And what must woman suffer, thus betrayed?—
    Her heart's most warm and precious feelings made
    But things wherewith to wound: that heart—so weak,
    So soft—laid open to the vulture's beak!
    • Rosalie.
  • It must be worth a life of toil and care,—
    Worth those dark chains the wearied one must bear
    Who toils up fortune's steep,—all that can wring
    The worn-out bosom with lone-suffering,—
    Worth restlessness, oppression, goading fears,
    And long-deferred hopes of many years,—
    To reach again that little quiet spot,
    So well loved once, and never quite forgot;—
    To trace again the steps of infancy,
    And catch their freshness from their memory!
    • Rosalie.
  • There was a grave just closed. Not one seemed near,
    To pay the tribute of one long—last tear!
    How very desolate must that one be,
    Whose more than grave has not a memory!
    • Rosalie.
  • I do love violets:
    They tell the history of woman's love;
    • Roland's Tower
  • Ah! love is even more fragile than its gifts!
    A tress of raven hair:--oh, only those
    Whose souls have felt this one idolatry
    Can tell how precious is the slightest thing
    Affection gives and hallows.
    • The Basque girl and Henri Quatre
  • Love, thou hast hopes like summers, short and bright,
    Moments of ecstasy, and maddening dreams,
    Intense delicious throbs!
    • The Basque girl and Henri Quatre
  • I will look on the stars and look on thee, and read the page of thy destiny.
    • The Gipsy's Prophecy.
  • Oh, tears are a most worthless token,
    When hearts they would have soothed are broken.
    • The Painter's Love
  • The father had prayed o'er his only son!
    • The Soldier's Funeral
  • Oh, softest is the cheek's love-ray
    When seen by moonlight hours
    • When Should Lovers Breathe Their Vows?

The Troubadour (1825)Edit

  • 'Tis strange how the heart can create
    Or colour from itself its fate;
    We make ourselves our own distress,
    We are ourselves our happiness.
    • Canto II

The Golden Violet (1827)Edit

  • Thou know'st how fearless is my trust in thee.
    • The Golden Violet - The Child of the Sea
  • So much to win, so much to lose,
    No marvel that I fear to choose.
    • The Golden Violet - title poem
  • Music moves us, and we know not why;
    We feel the tears, but cannot trace their source.
    Is it the language of some other state,
    Born of its memory ? For what can wake
    The soul's strong instinct of another world,
    Like music?
    • Erinna

The Venetian Bracelet (1829)Edit

  • -- social life is fill’d
    With doubts and vain aspirings; solitude,
    When the imagination is dethroned,
    Is turned to weariness.
    • A History of the Lyre
  • Alas! we make
    A ladder of our thoughts, where angels step,
    But sleep ourselves at the foot: our high resolves
    Look down upon our slumbering acts.
    • A History of the Lyre
  • I would give worlds, could I believe
    One-half that is profess'd me;
    Affection! could I think it Thee,
    When Flattery has caress'd me.
    • Song - I pray thee let me weep to-night
  • My tears are buried in my heart, like cave-locked fountains sleeping.
    • Song - I pray thee let me weep to-night

Heath's book of Beauty, 1833 (1832)Edit

The Enchantress

  • Water—the mighty, the pure, the beautiful, the unfathomable—where is thy element so glorious as it is in thine own domain, the deep seas ? What an infinity of power is in the far Atlantic, the boundary of two separate worlds, apart like those of memory and of hope ! or in the bright Pacific, whose tides are turned to gold by a southern sun, and in whose bosom sleep a thousand isles, each covered with the verdure, the flowers, and the fruit of Eden ! But, amid all thy hereditary kingdoms, to which hast thou given beauty, as a birthright, lavishly as thou hast to thy favourite Mediterranean ? The silence of a summer night is now sleeping on its bosom, where the bright stars are mirrored, as if in its depths they had another home and another heaven. A spirit, cleaving air midway between the two, might have paused to ask which was sea, and which was sky. The shadows of earth and earthly things, resting omen-like upon the waters, alone shewed which was the home and which the mirror of the celestial host.
  • We step not over the threshold of childhood till led by Love
  • Strange, that ignorance should be our best happiness in this life, and yet be the one we are ever striving to destroy !
  • The weakness of our nature—how soon any strong emotion masters it !
  • I had lost of humanity but its illusions, and they alone are what render it supportable.
  • Truly, night was made for sleep; since to its wakeful hours belongs an oppression unknown to the very dreariest hours of day. The stillness is so deep, the solitude so unbroken, the fever brought on by want of rest so weakens the nerves, that the imagination exercises despotic and unwholesome power, till, if the heart have a fear or a sorrow, up it arises in all the force and terror of gigantic exaggeration.
  • For when do friends not delight in the sorrow of the prosperous?
  • He who seeks pleasure with reference to himself, not others, will ever find that pleasure is only another name for discontent.
  • In sad truth, half our forebodings of our neighbours are but our own wishes, which we are ashamed to utter in any other form.
  • How often will the lip frame some indifferent question, when the heart is full of the most important!

The Vow of the Peacock (1835)Edit

The London Literary GazetteEdit

  • How sweet on the breeze of the evening swells
    The vesper call of those soothing bells,
    Borne softly and dying in echoes away,
    Like a requiem sung to the parting day.
    • (22nd September 1821) Bells
  • He must be rich whom I could love,
    His fortune clear must be,
    Whether in land or in the funds,
    'Tis all the same to me.
    • (10th November 1821) Six Songs of Love, Constancy, Romance, Inconstancy, Truth, and Marriage - 'Matrimonial Creed'
  • You may find many a brighter one
    Than your own rose, but there are none
    So true to thee, Love.
    • (5th January 1822) Song ("Are other eyes beguiling, Love?")
  • These are thy bridal flowers
    I am now wreathing;
    This is thy marriage hymn
    I am now breathing.
    • (12th January 1822) Sketch the first. "A woman's whole life is a history of the affections. The heart is her world. She sends forth her sympathies in adventure; she embarks her whole shoal in the traffic of love, and, if shipwrecked, her case is hopeless; it is a bankruptcy of the heart."
  • But ignorance is happiness,
    When young Hope is to show the way;
    • (12th January 1822) Ten Years Ago.
  • A blossom full of promise is life's joy,
    That never comes to fruit; hope, for a time,
    Suns the young floweret in its gladsome light,
    And it looks flourishing—a little while,
    Tis past, we know not whither, but 'tis gone—
    • (19th January 1822) Poetic Sketches, No.2
  • A light compliment was never yet breathed by love.
  • A man above thirty cannot enter into the wild visions of an enthusiastic girl.
  • Love has no power to look forward — the delicious consciousness of the present, a faint but delightful shadow of the past, form its eternity.
    • (18th August 1822) These from a prose sketch - Isadore
  • Do any thing but love ; or if thou lovest
    And art a Woman, hide thy love from him
    Who thou dost worship ; never let him know
    How dear he is ; flit like a bird before him, —
    Lead him from tree to tree, from flower to flower ;
    But be not won, or thou wilt, like that bird,
    When caught and caged, be left to pine neglected,
    And perish in forgetfulness.
    • (26th April 1823) Fragment - Do any thing but love ; or if thou lovest
  • There's feasting spread in gorgeous halls,
    The lamps flash round the city walls,
    And many a flood of lustre falls
    O'er many an honoured name.

    Turn thou from this, and enter where
    Some mother weeps o'er her despair,
    Some desolate bride rends her rich hair,
    Some orphan joins the cry !
    Then back again to the death plain,
    Where lie those whom they weep in vain,
    And ask, in gazing on the slain,
    What art thou, Victory ?
    • (21st January 1826) Io triumphe (under the pen name Iole)

The Monthly MagazineEdit

On the Ancient and Modern Influence of Poetry (1832)

  • It is curious to observe how little one period resembles another. Centuries are the children of one mighty family, but here is no family-likeness between them.
  • The imagination, which is the source of poetry, has in every country been the beginning as well as the ornament of civilization. It civilizes because it refines.
  • We deny that poetry is fiction; its merit and its power lie alike in its truth:

A Calendar of the London Seasons (1834)

  • Pattern love-letter — "I — I — I — you — you — you ; you — you — you — I — I — I," garnished with loves and doves ad libitum.


  • Hope is a timid thing,
    Fearful, and weak, and born in suffering;
    At least, such Hope as human life can bring.
    • (1834-1, page 303) The Future. Re-used in 'Ethel Churchill' Vol. I, Chapter 31

Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap BooksEdit


  • Few save the poor feel for the poor,
    The rich know not how hard
    It is to be of needful food
    And needful rest debarred.
    • The Widow's Mite. Re-used in Ethel Churchill (1837), Vol III Chapter 5


  • Ah, tell me not that memory
    Sheds gladness o'er the past ;
    What is recalled by faded flowers,
    Save that they did not last?
    Were it not better to forget,
    Than but remember and regret ?
    • Ethel Churchill (1837), Vol II, page 201
  • Business before pleasure.
    • Francesca Carrara (1834), Vol III, page 200
  • Charity is a calm, severe duty; it must be intellectual, to be advantageous. It is a strange mistake that it should ever be considered a merit; its fulfilment is only what we owe to each other, and is a debt never paid to its full extent.
    • Ethel Churchill (1837). Vol.III, page 278.
  • Every feeling that looks to the future elevates human nature; for life is never so low or so little as when it concentrates itself on the present. The miserable wants, the small desires, and the petty pleasures of daily existence have nothing in common with those mighty dreams which, looking forward for action and action's reward, redeem the earth over which they walk with steps like those of an angel, beneath which spring up glorious and immortal flowers. The imagination is man's noblest and most spiritual faculty ; and that ever dwells on the to-come.
    • Francesca Carrara (1834), Vol III, page 161
  • Hard are life's early steps; and but that youth is buoyant, confident, and strong in hope, men would behold its threshold, and despair.
    • Ethel Churchill (1837) Vol. I, page 79
  • Memory has many conveniences, and, among others, that of foreseeing things as they have afterwards happened.
    • Francesca Carrara (1834), Vol I, page 299.
  • No thoroughly occupied man was ever yet very miserable.
    • Romance and Reality (1831) Vol. II, page 108
  • Society is like a large piece of frozen water; and skating well is the great art of social life.
  • [Full quote: Truly, society is like a large piece of frozen water ; there are the rough places to be shunned, the very slippery ones all ready for a fall, and the holes which seem made expressly to drown you. All that can be done is to glide lightly over them. Skating well is the great art of social life.]
    • Francesca Carrara (1834) End of Chapter XXV, page 134 in combined edition.
  • We need to suffer, that we may learn to pity.
    • Ethel Churchill (1837), Vol I, page 235.
  • We would liken music to Aladdin’s lamp — worthless in itself, not so for the spirits which obey its call. We love it for the buried hopes, the garnered memories, the tender feelings, it can summon with a touch.
    • Romance and Reality (1831) Vol I, page 64

External linksEdit