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Age and Youth

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

"I tell thee," said the old man, "what is life.
A gulf of troubled waters — where the soul,
Like a vexed bark, is tossed upon the waves,
Of pain and pleasure, by the wavering breath
Of passions. They are winds that drive it on,
But only to destruction and despair.
Methinks that we have known some former state
More glorious than our present ; and the heart
Is haunted by dim memoriesshadows left
By past felicity. Hence do we pine
For vain aspiringshopes that fill the eyes
With bitter tears for their own vanity.
Are we then fallen from some lovely star,
Whose consciousness is as an unknown curse?"
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on April 27, 2016

33 sec read
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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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