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Lines on Curran's Picture

Oh ! is it not a gallant sight to mark
A little vessel breast the stormy sea,
With sails triumphant swelling to the wind ?
Dashing the waters from her side in scorn,
She cleaves the ocean, and, with arrowy prow.
Scattering the snowy foam, a sparkling shower,
And leaving a bright track behind, in sign
Of victory. Our human pride delights
In such a triumph over wind and wave,
Because she knows 'tis not the plank and sail
But human mind that holds the mastery.
The canvass has been spread by human hand,
And human hand it is that guides the helm.
Methinks with nobler triumph we should mark
Some gallant spirit through the sea of life
Shape its successful course. Sustained, impelled
By energy unconquerable within,
A life like Curran's has enough to make
Humanity ashamed and proud. 'Tis strange
To think what toil is wasted upon some,
How ancient scrolls unfold their precious store,
The learned folio yields its silver clasp,
The modern page marks out its easy way
Some learned man to aid, assist, explain,
And all to prove some fool is also dunce.
Now watch the progress of a nobler mind :
It has no aid, except from obstacles
To conquer which invigorates : learned wealth
As much debarred as golden ; every step
Made difficult by want of help ; and books
Things more of a desire than of a hope.
And yet that boy will rise into a man.
The honoured of his country, and will leave
A name imperishable as the soul.
And such was Curran ; 'twas a glorious sight
To see him when his soul was on its spring,
Gifted with all the mighty strength of words,
Wit from his lip, and lightning from his eye,
Flashing together—scorn enthroned on power—
I'd rather have such stirring life as theirs,
Who make their own way, and delight to make,
Win wealth and honour by their own bright mind,
Whose destiny is in itself—than bear
The noblest name that ever belted Earl
Left honoured to his son—
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on June 26, 2016

1:42 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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