The Country Retreat

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

OH lone and lovely solitude,
Washed by the sounding sea;
Nature was in a poet's mood,
When she created thee.

How pleasant in the hour of noon
To wander through the shade;
The soft and golden shade which June
Flings o'er thy inland glade:

The wild rose like a wreath above,
The ash-tree's fairy keys,
The aspen trembling, as if love
Were whispered by the breeze;

These, or the beech's darker bough,
For canopy o'er head,
While moss and fragile flowers below
An elfin pillow spread.

Here one might dream the hours away,
As if the world had not
Or grief, or care, or disarray,
To darken human lot.

Yet 'tis not here that I would dwell,
Though fair the place may be,
The summer's favourite citadel:—
A busier scene for me!

I love to see the human face
Reflect the human mind,
To watch in every crowded place
Their opposites combined.

There's more for thought in one brief hour
In yonder busy street,
Than all that ever leaf or flower
Taught in their green retreat.

Industry, intellect, and skill
Appear in all their pride,
The glorious force of human will
Triumphs on every side.

Yet touched with meekness, for on all
Is set the sign and seal
Of sorrow, suffering, and thrall,
Which none but own and feel;
The hearse that passes with its dead,
The homeless beggar's prayer,
Speak words of warning, and of dread,
To every passer there.

Aye beautiful the dreaming brought
By valleys and green fields;
But deeper feeling, higher thought,
Is what the city yields.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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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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    "The Country Retreat" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 27 Sep. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/25709/the-country-retreat>.

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