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Prince Ahmed and the Fairy

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



A Sketch from the Arabian nights.

  ON he past
Through the strange cavern : still a distant sound
Of music led him on ; and still a light,
A faint and lovely light, played o'er his way,
And shewed the walls, where ev'ry gem of earth
Shone with the hues of heaven : deeply blue,
The sapphire softened the red ruby's blaze ;
The ethereal diamond and green emerald
Made it seem like the palace of a king.
Still follow'd the young prince the graceful light,
That like a spirit danced before his path ;
At last, a fresher air passed o'er his brow —
Fresh, but as sweet as if its course had been
Over a thousand roses ; and the flame,
His sparkling guide, vanish'd when the clear sky,
Fountains, and trees, and flow'rs grew visible.
And Ahmed saw a lovely garden spread,
As if it were the Summer's favourite home ;
The turf was like a Persian carpet, dight
With myriads of gay colours ; and rich beds
Of tulips, earth's bright rainbows, seemed to hold
Divided wealth with the gold amaranth.
Kings of the solitude, gigantic palms,
Held shadowy empire, and like lovers hung
Over the delicate acacia's boughs,
Which guarded in their turn blue violets,
Lying like clouds earth-dropt beneath their shade.
Around were marble fountains, and their spray,
A silver shower, fell o'er the scented shrubs,
Making exchange of freshness for their odours.
There the birds nestled thickest, with their wings
Shining like Indian stones, and each soft throat
Tuned like a separate lute. At the far end,
Mirrored in the clear crystal of the lake,
Arose the garden's wonder, the bright palace,
All glorious, with its purple towers, like those
The evening clouds build for the setting sun. —
He entered one rich hall ; his dazzled sight
Sank in the splendour. Pearl and ruby shafts
Supported the high dome, where amber gave
Its fragrance forth ; incense and precious woods
Shed their sweet influence, and music's sound
Lutes and soft voices mingled — met his ear ;
And beautiful young forms were floating round
The gorgeous throne whereon the fairy sat,
Like waving clouds about the lovely moon.
She rose, their radiant mistress, and flung back
The ebon tresses from her marble brow ;
And Ahmed gaz'd upon the large dark eyes
That welcom'd him : — a smile, a timid blush,
Were on her cheek — they told the tale of love.
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on April 26, 2016

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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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