Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Greece and Turkey in Europe: Vol. XIX. 1876–79.

Greece: Corfu, the Island


By Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802–1838)

NOW doth not summer’s sunny smile

Sink soft o’er that Ionian isle,

While round the kindling waters sweep

The murmured music of the deep,

The many melodies that swell

From breaking wave and red-lipped shell?

Love mine! how sweet it were to leave

This weary world of ours behind,

And borrow from the blushing eve

The wild wings of the wandering wind.

Would we not flee away and find

Some lonely cave beside the shore?

One where a nereid dwelt of yore,

And sheltered in its glistening bowers

A love almost as fond as ours?

A diamond spar incrusts the walls,

A rainbow light from crystal falls;

And musical amid the gloom,

A fountain’s silvery showers illume

The further darkness, as with ray

And song it finds its sparkling way.

A natural lute and lamp,—a tone,

A light, to wilder waves unknown.

The cave is curtained with the vine,

And inside wandering branches twine,

While from the large green leaves escape

The blooming clusters of the grape;

Fruit with such hyacinthine glow

As southern sunbeams only know.

We will not leave it till the moon

Lulls with her languid look the sea;

Sleep, shadow, silence for the noon;

But midnight, love, to wake with thee,

When the sweet myrtle-trees exhale

The odors of their blossoms pale,

And dim and purple colors steep

Those blossoms in their perfumed sleep;

Where closed are the cicala’s wings,

And no leaf stirs, nor wild bird sings,

Lulled by the dusk air warm and sweet;

Then, kneeling, dearest, at thy feet,

Thy face the only sight I see,

Thy voice the only sound I hear,

While midnight’s moonlit mystery

Seems the full heart’s enchanted sphere,

Then should thy own low whisper tell

Those ancient songs thou lovest so well;

Tales of old battles which are known

To me but from thy lip alone;

Dearer than if the bard again

Could sound his own imperial strain.

Ah, folly! of such dreaming hours

That are not, that may not be ours.

Farewell! thou far Ionian isle

That lighted for my love awhile

A sweet enchantment formed to fade;

Of darker days my life is made;

Imbittering my reality

With dreams of all that may not be.

Such fairy fancies when they part

But leave behind a withered heart;

Dreaming o’er all it hath not known;

Alas! and is such heart mine own?