Scenes In London IV - The City Churchyard

I PRAY thee lay me not to rest
Among these mouldering bones;
Too heavily the earth is prest
By all these crowded stones.

Life is too gay—life is too near—
With all its pomp and toil;
I pray thee do not lay me here,
In such a world-struck soil.

The ceaseless roll of wheels would wake
The slumbers of the dead;
I cannot bear for life to make
Its pathway o'er my head.

The flags around are cold and drear,
They stand apart, alone;
And no one ever pauses here,
To sorrow for the gone.

No: lay me in the far green fields
The summer sunshine cheers;
And where the early wild flower yields
The tribute of its tears.

Where shadows the sepulchral yew,
Where droops the willow tree,
Where the long grass is filled with dew—
Oh! make such grave for me!

And passers-by, at evening's close,
Will pause beside the grave,
And moralize o'er the repose
They fear, and yet they crave.

Perhaps some kindly hand may bring
Its offering to the tomb;
And say, As fades the rose in spring,
So fadeth human bloom.

But here there is no kindly thought
To soothe, and to relieve;
No fancies and no flowers are brought,
That soften while they grieve.

Here Poesy and Love come not—
It is a world of stone;
The grave is bought—is closed—forgot!
And then life hurries on.

Sorrow and beauty—nature—love—
Redeem man's common breath;
Ah! let them shed the grave above—
Give loveliness to death.

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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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"Scenes In London IV - The City Churchyard" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 15 Sep. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/25702/scenes-in-london-iv---the-city-churchyard>.

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