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The Pirate’s Song off the Tiger Island

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

Our prize is won, our chase is o’er,
Turn the vessel to the shore.
Place yon rock, so that the wind,
Like a prisoner, howl behind ;
Which is darkest—wave, or cloud ?
One a grave, and one a shroud.
Though the thunder rend the sky,
Though the echoing wind reply,
Though the lightning sweep the seas.
We are used to nights like these ;
Let it foam, the angry main—
Washing out the blood-red stain,
Which the evening conflict threw
O’er the waters bright and blue.
Though above the thunder break.
Twill but drown our victims’ shriek ;
And the lightning’s serpent coil,
Will but glimmer o’er our spoil:
Maidens, in whose orient eyes,
More than morning’s sunshine lies—
Honour to the wind and waves,
While they yield us such sweet slaves—
Shawls the richest of Cashmere,
Pearls from Oman’s bay are here;
And Golconda’s royal mine
Sends her diamonds here to shine ;
Let the stars at midnight glow,
We have brighter stars below;
Leave the planet of the pole
Just to guide us to our goal,
We’d not change for heaven's own stars,
Yon glad heap of red dinars ; *
See the crimson silks unfold,
And the slender chains of gold,
Like the glittering curls descending,
When the bright one’s head is bending;
And the radiant locks fall over,
Or her mirror or her lover,
On which face she likes to dwell,
’Twere a prophet’s task to tell;
All those crystal flasks enclose
Sighs of the imprisoned rose ;
And those porcelain urns are filled
By sweet Indian wood distilled ;
And behold those fragrant piles,
Spice from the Manilla isles,
Nutmegs, cloves, and cinnamon—
But our glorious task is done.
Little dreamed the merchant’s care
Who his precious freight should share—
Fill the wine-cup to the brim,
Our first health shall be to him.

*An Indian coin.
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on June 17, 2016

1:31 min 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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    "The Pirate’s Song off the Tiger Island" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 17 May 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/44862/the-pirate’s-song-off--the-tiger-island>.

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