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A Comparison

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



A pretty, rainbow sort of life enough ;
Filled up with vanities and gay caprice :
Such life is like the garden at Versailles,
Where all is artificial ; and the stream
Is held in marble basins, or sent up
Amid the fretted air, in waterfalls ;
Fantastic, sparkling ; and the element,
The mighty element, a moment's toy ;
And, like all toys, ephemeral.
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on June 24, 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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