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Durham Cathedral

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



Those dark and silent aisles are fill’d with night,
There breathes no murmur, and there shines no light;
The graves beneath the pavement yield their gloom,
’Till the cathedral seems one mighty tomb.
The Cross invisible—the words unseen
That tell where Faith and Hope in death have been.
But day is breaking, and a rosy smile
Colours the depths of each sepulchral aisle.
The orient windows kindle with the morn,
And ’mid the darkness are their rainbows born ;
Each ray that brightens, and each hue that falls,
Attest some sacred sign upon the walls ;—
Some sculptured saint’s pale head—some graven line
Of promise, precept, or belief divine :
Then sounds arise, the echoes bear along
Through the resounding aisles the choral song.
The billowy music of the organ sweeps,
Like the vast anthem of uplifted deeps ;
The bells ring forth—the long dark night is done,
The sunshine of the Sabbath is begun.

  What is that temple but a type sublime !
Such was the moral night of ancient time ;
Cold and obscure, in vain the king and sage
Gave law and learning to the darkened age.
There was no present faith, no future hope,
Earth bounded then the earth-drawn horoscope ;
Till to the east there came the promised star—
Till rose the Sun of Righteousness afar—
Till, on a world redeem’d, the Saviour shone,
Earth for his footstool—Heaven for his throne.
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on December 21, 2016

1:09 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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