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Belvoir Castle.—Seat of the Duke of Rutland

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

Tis an old and stately castle,
  In an old and stately wood;
Thoughts and shadows gathered round it,
  Of the ages it had stood.

But not of the ancient warriors,
  Whose red banners swept its towers,
Nor of any lovely lady,
  Blooming in its former bowers—

Think I now;—but one as lovely,
  And more gifted, haunts my line.
In the visions round yon castle
  Is no fairer one than thine!

I can fancy thee in childhood
  Wandering through each haunted scene,
Peopling the green glades around thee
  With the thoughts of what had been:

Asking of each leaf its lesson,
  Of each midnight star its tale,
Till thy fancy caught revealings
  From the music of the gale.

Yet, whence did thy lute inherit
  All it knows of human grief?—
What dost thou know of the knowledge
  On life’s dark and daily leaf?

In thy woman-hearted pages,
  How much sympathy appears
With the sorrowful and real,
  All that only speaks in tears!

Have those large bright eyes been darkened
  By the shadows from below?
Rather would I deem thee dreaming
  Over grief thou canst not know.

But thou hast the poet’s birthright,
  In a heart too warm and true.
Wreath thy dark hair with the laurel—
  On it rests the midnight dew!
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on March 12, 2020

Modified by Madeleine Quinn

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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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