Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Georgian Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Georgian Verse.  1909.
Fiesolan Idyl
By 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 Fiesolé 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 gathered the pure treasure in her lap.
I heard the branches rustle, and stepped forth
To drive the ox away, or mule, or goat,        15
Such I believed 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)
Walked off? ’Twere 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 ’tis 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 reproached 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
Warmed by the eye intent on its pursuit;
I saw the foot that, altho’ 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 thro’
And scattering them in fragments underfoot.
So crisp were some, they rattled unevolved,
Others, ere broken off, fell into shells,        45
For such appear the petals when detached,
Unbending, brittle, lucid, white like snow,
And like snow not seen thro’, by eye or sun:
Yet every one her gown received from me
Was fairer than the first. I thought not so,        50
But so she praised them to reward my care.
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 solved (and this she felt) her doubt.
I dared not touch it; for it seemed 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,
Dropped it, as loth to drop it, on the rest.

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