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The Gathering of the Chieftains at Beteddein - The Palace of the Prince of the Druses

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



THEY come from the mountains, in thousands they come—
There breatheth no trumpet, there beateth no drum:
They march in such silence as suiteth the dead,
Their herald the thunder that echoes their tread.

The sun is midway in his morning advance,
His beams kindle musket, and sabre, and lance;
While beneath each white turban flows down the long hair;
For the locks of the Druse are, like northern locks, fair.

They sweep like a torrent the far mountain-side,
Wild and steep is the path which these warriors ride;
But the foot in the stirrup, the hand on the rein,
To them the hill-side is the same as the plain.

Frail and faint is the Emir who leadeth them on,
His heart has not failed, but his prowess is gone;
Yet he comes in a litter,* due homage to yield
To the Pasha, who gathers his force for the field.

In Ibrahim’s cause no man may be slack,
Wo, wo tho the coward who turneth him back;
His head to the vulture, his roof to the flame,
Were the doom that would wait on himself and his name.

How gallant they look in their gathered array!
While turban and housing reflect the noon-ray.
Afar are the foes, and the field is before—
It will know them as victors, or know them no more!

*“The palace of the Emir Beshir, the sovereign of Lebanon, is a costly edifice, commanding a prospect of the valley and town of Deir-el-Kamar, with a distant view of the sea. When Ibrahim Pasha was about to march into Syria, his ally, the Emir, sent his summons throughout the whole range of Lebanon, and the mountaineers immediately obeyed his call. On former occasions, the Sheikh Beshir, or Druse chief, was general of the army, but the Emir, in this instance, exhibited his zeal in the cause of Ibrahim, by accompanying his troops, on their march, to Damascus, borne in a litter. The subjects of the Emir are Druses and Christians, both warlike, both attached to their prince, who is a Christian. They are perhaps the only people who do not love music: they possess no musical instruments, and march to battle without trumpet, pipe, or song.”
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on May 08, 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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