Success Alone Seen

Few know of life's beginnings — men behold
The goal achieved. The warrior, when his sword
Flashes red triumph in the noonday sun ;
The poet, when his lyre hangs on the palm ;
The statesman, when the crowd proclaim his voice,
And mould opinion on his gifted tongue :
They count not life's first steps, and never think
Upon the many miserable hours
When hope deferred was sickness to the heart.
They reckon not the battle and the march,
The long privations of a wasted youth ;
They never see the banner till unfurled.
What are to them the solitary nights,
Past pale and anxious by the sickly lamp,
Till the young poet wins the world at last,
To listen to the music long his own ?
The crowd attend the statesman's fiery mind
That makes their destiny ; but they do not trace
Its struggle, or its long expectancy.
Hard are life's early steps ; and, but that youth
Is buoyant, confident, and strong in hope,
Men would behold its threshold, and despair.
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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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"Success Alone Seen" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 19 Jun 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/44850/success-alone-seen>.

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