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Interior of a Moorish Palace

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

Hamooda holds a feast to-night —
Fill ye the lamps with fragrant light ;
Burn, in the twilight's dewy time,
The mastic, rosemary, and thyme;
And scatter round the festal chamber
Oils from the rose, the musk, the amber.

And bind ye wreaths to hang the room,
The red pomegranate just in bloom,
The tulip, with the purple glow,
That hides the burning heart below ;
The crimson rose beside the pale,
And the white jasmin, faint and frail.

Fling ye the silken curtains wide,
With gold restrained — with scarlet dyed.
And let the colours wander o'er
The polished walls — the snowy floor.
The painted glass has hues to vie
With morning's dew or evening's sky.

White are the walls, but o'er them wind
Rich patterns curiously designed.
The Koran's sentences of light,
Where azure, gold, and red unite ;
And like their mirrors, fountains play
To lull and cool the burning day.

See the sherbets be cool with snows,
Flavoured with lemon and with rose ;
High in pearl baskets pile the grape
So that no purple bloom escape.
Bring ye the sweetmeats, and serve up
The coffee in a golden cup.

Call in the music, hours are long
Unspeeded by the dance and song.
Prepare the fairest slaves, whose eyes
Are stars to light our human skies.
Gather scents, songs, tales, smiles, and light,
The Bey Hamooda feasts to-night.

(The palace, built by Hamooda Pasha, is a magnificent specimen of Moorish architecture.)
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on May 07, 2016

1:14 min read

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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