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Cemetery of the Smolensko Church

They gather, with the summer in their hands,
The summer from their distant vallies bringing;
They gather round the church in pious bands,
With funeral array, and solemn singing.

The dead are their companions; many days
Have past since they were laid to their last slumber;
And in the hurry of life's crowded ways,
Small space has been for memory to cumber.

But now the past comes back again, and death
Asketh its mournful tribute of the living;
And memories that were garnered at the heart,
The treasures kept from busier hours are giving.

The mother kneeleth at a little tomb,
And sees one sweet face shining from beneath it;
She has brought all the early flowers that bloom,
In the small garden round their home, to wreath it.

Friend thinks on friend; and youth comes back again
To that one moment of awakened feeling;
And prayers, such prayers as never rise in vain,
Call down the heaven to which they are appealing.

It is a superstitious rite and old,
Yet having with all higher things connexion;
Prayers, tears, redeem a world so harsh and cold,
The future has its hope, the past its deep affection.

The Cemetery of the Smolensko Church is situated about two versts from Petersburgh, on one of the islands on the mouth of the Neva, and less than a quarter of a mile from the gulf of Finland. The curious ceremony represented takes place yearly, when the Russians gather from all parts, to scatter flowers on the graves, and to mourn over the dead, and afterwards proceed to regale themselves with soup, fruit of all kinds, and wine; in many instances spreading their cloths on the very graves over which they had been bitterly mourning.
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on February 29, 2020

1:27 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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    "Cemetery of the Smolensko Church" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 7 Dec. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/52645/cemetery-of-the-smolensko-church>.

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