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Bona. The Pirate’s Song

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

To the mast nail our flag, it is dark as the grave,
Or the death which it bears while it sweeps o’er the wave.
Let our deck clear for action, our guns be prepared;
Be the boarding-axe sharpened, the scimetar bared;
Set the canisters ready, and then bring to me,
For the last of my duties, the powder-room key.
It shall never be lowered, the black flag we bear;
If the sea be denied us, we sweep through the air.

Unshared have we left our last victory’s prey;
It is mine to divide it, and yours to obey:
There are shawls that might suit a sultana’s white neck,
And pearls that are fair as the arms they will deck;
There are flasks which, unseal them, the air will disclose
Diametta’s fair summers, the home of the rose.
I claim not a portion: I ask but as mine,
'Tis to drink to our victory—one cup of red wine.

Some fight, 'tis for riches; some fight, ’tis for fame:
The first I despise, and the last is a name.
I fight, ’tis for vengeance. I love to see flow,
At the stroke of my sabre, the life of my foe.
I strike for the memory of long vanished years;
I only shed blood, where another sheds tears.
I come, as the lightning comes red from above,
O’er the race that I loathe, to the battle I love.
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on March 02, 2020

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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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    "Bona. The Pirate’s Song" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 17 May 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/52694/bona.-the-pirate’s-song>.

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