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The Soldier's Funeral

Letitia Elizabeth Landon 1802 (Chelsea) – 1838 (Cape Coast)



The muffled drum rolled on the air,
Warriors, with stately step, were there;
On every arm was the black crape bound,
Every carbine was turned to the ground;
Solemn, the sound of their measured tread,
As silent and slow, they followed the dead.

The riderless horse was led in the rear;
There were white plumes waving over the bier;
Helmet and sword were laid on the pall,
For, it was a soldier's funeral.

That soldier had stood on the battle plain,
Where every step was over the slain;
But the brand and the ball had passed him by,
And he came to his native land, to die.

'Twas hard to come to that native land,
And not clasp one familiar hand;
'Twas hard to be numbered amid the dead,
Before he could hear his welcome said.

But, 'twas something to see its cliffs once more,
And to lay his bones on his own loved shore;
To think, that the friends of his youth might weep,
O'er the green grass turf of the soldier's sleep.

The bugles ceased their wailing sound,
As the coffin was lowered into the ground;
A volley was fired, a blessing said,
One moment's pause, and they left the dead.

I saw a poor and aged man -
His step was feeble, his cheek was wan;
He knelt him down on the new-raised mound,
His face was bowed on the cold damp ground;
He raised his head, his tears were done -
The father had prayed o'er his only son.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Letitia Elizabeth Landon was an English poet. Born 14th August 1802 at 25 Hans Place, Chelsea, she lived through the most productive period of her life nearby, at No.22. A precocious child with a natural gift for poetry, she was driven by the financial needs of her family to become a professional writer and thus a target for malicious gossip (although her three children by William Jerdan were successfully hidden from the public). In 1838, she married George Maclean, governor of Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast, whence she travelled, only to die a few months later (15th October) of a fatal heart condition. Behind her post-Romantic style of sentimentality lie preoccupations with art, decay and loss that give her poetry its characteristic intensity and in this vein she attempted to reinterpret some of the great male texts from a woman’s perspective. Her originality rapidly led to her being one of the most read authors of her day and her influence, commencing with Tennyson in England and Poe in America, was long-lasting. However, Victorian attitudes led to her poetry being misrepresented and she became excluded from the canon of English literature, where she belongs. more…

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