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Music of Laughter

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

She had that charming laugh which, like a song,
The song of a spring-bird, wakes suddenly
When we least look for it. It lingered long
Upon the ear, one of the sweet things we
Treasure unconsciously. As steals along
A stream in sunshine, stole its melody,
As musical as it was light and wild,
The buoyant spirit of some fairy child ;
Yet mingled with soft sighs, that might express
The depth and truth of earnest tenderness.
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on December 09, 2016

22 sec 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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