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Town and Harbour of Ithaca

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

By another light surrounded
  Than our actual sky;
With the purple ocean bounded
  Does the island lie,
⁠ Like a dream of the old world.
Bare the rugged heights ascending,
  Bring to mind the past,
When the weary voyage ending,
  Was the anchor cast.
⁠⁠ And the stranger sails were furled
⁠ ⁠Beside the glorious island
  ⁠⁠Where Ulysses was the king.

Still does fancy see the palace,
  With its carved gates;
Where the suitors drained the chalice,
  Mocking at the Fates.
⁠⁠ Stern, and dark, and veiled are they.
Still their silent thread entwining
  Of our wretched life;
With their cold pale hands combining
  Hate, and fear, and strife.
⁠ ⁠Hovers the avenging day
  ⁠⁠O’er the glorious island
  ⁠⁠Where Ulysses was the king.

Grant my fancy pardon,
  If amid these trees
Still it sees the garden
  Of old Laertes,
⁠ ⁠Where he met his glorious son.
The apple boughs were drooping
  Beneath their rosy fruit,
And the rich brown pears were stooping
  To the old man at their foot,
⁠⁠ While his daily task was done
  ⁠⁠In the glorious island,
  ⁠⁠Where Ulysses was the king

’Tis a vain and cold invention,
  ’Tis the spirit’s wrong,
Which to some small mind's pretension
  Would subdue that song,
⁠⁠ Shrined in manhood’s general heart.
One almighty mind—one only,
  Could such strain have sung;
Ever be the laurel lonely,
  Where such lyre is hung.
⁠ ⁠Be the world a thing apart,
  ⁠Of the glorious island,
⁠ ⁠Where Ulysses was the king
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on March 12, 2020

1:14 min read
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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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