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Sir William Stanley

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

The man was old, his hair was grey—
And I have heard the old man say,
'Keep thou from royal courts away;'
In proof thereof, he wont to tell
The Stanley’s fatal chronicle.

King Henry sat amid his court, and of the nobles there
Not one with William Stanley for favour could compare;
He was the royal chamberlain, and on his bended knee
Within King Henry’s silver cup the red wine poured he.

There came a knight in presence there, he named my master’s name,
As he stood betting golden coin upon the royal game.
And on Sir Robert Clifford’s word, they took his sword away,
And William Stanley to the Tower was prisoner sent that day.

God only knows the hearts of men, but ’twas a wondrous thing
My noble master should conspire against the crowned king;
For well I know on Bosworth Field it was his red right hand
That placed upon Earl Richmond’s brow King Richard’s royal band.

But ancient service is forgot; and he, the Wiseman, said,
Think thou no evil of the king upon thy lonely bed;
And therefore little will I name of what I then heard told,
That my good lord’s worst treasons were his broad lands and his gold.

I saw him on the scaffold stand, the axe was gleaming bright,
But I will say he faced its shine as best became a knight;
He prayed a prayer—he knelt him down—there smote a sullen sound,
I saw my master’s severed head upon the dark red ground.

No nobles bore the noble’s pall, there was no funeral bell,
But I stood weeping by the grave of him I loved so well.
I know not of the right or wrong, but this much let me say,
Would God my master had been kept from kings and courts away!
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on March 04, 2020

1:31 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic heptameter
Characters 1,611
Words 305
Stanzas 7
Stanza Lengths 5, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

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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