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Fishing Boats in the Monsoon

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

Burn yet awhile, my wasting lamp,
  Though long the night may be;
The wind is rough, the air is damp,
  Yet burn awhile for me.

The peepul tree beside our door,
  How dark its branches wave;
They seem as they were drooping o’er
  Its usual haunt, the grave.

Why was it planted here to bring
  The images of death?
Surely some gladder tree should spring
  Near human hope and breath.

O dove that dwellest its leaves among,
  I hear thee on the bough;
I hear thy melancholy song,
  Why art thou singing now?

All things are omens to the heart
  That keeps a vigil lone,
When wearily the hours depart,
  And yet night is not flown.

I see the lights amid the bay,
  How pale and wan they shine;
O wind, that wanderest on thy way,
  Say which of them is mine.

A weary lot the fisher hath
  Of danger and of toil,
Over the wild waves is his path,
  Amid their depths his spoil.

I cannot hear the wind go by
  Without a sudden fear;
I cannot look upon the sky,
  Nor fear that storms are near.

I look upon the sunny sea,
  And think of rocks below;
Still present are the shoals to me
  O’er which my love must go.

I cannot sleep as others sleep,
  Night has more care than day;
My heart is out upon the deep,
  I weep—I watch—I pray.

Ah, see a speck the waves among,
  A light boat cuts the foam,
The wild wind beareth me his song,
  Thank God, he is come home.

The western coasts of India abound with a great variety of fish, of excellent quality; and a considerable population in the villages along the seashore is occupied in catching it, and, in a great measure, subsist upon it. The mode of catching the fish is as follows: piles or stakes, of considerable size and length, are sunk and secured at certain distances from the shore, extending sometimes several miles out to sea; these are driven or forced down by fastening boats to them at high water, heavily laden with ballast, which, by their own weight as the tide falls, force the stakes deeper into the sandy or muddy bottom. This operation is further assisted at the same time by a number of boatmen swaying upon ropes made fast to the upper part of the stake. To the stakes are attached nets of great length, and of very tough materials, capable of sustaining the weight of such draughts as occasionally appear almost miraculous, exhibiting a motley assemblage of varieties of fish and other marine productions.
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on February 20, 2020

2:10 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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