Letitia Elizabeth Landon 1802 (Chelsea) – 1838 (Cape Coast)
WHENE'ER a person is a poet,
No matter what the pang may be;
Does not at once the public know it ?
Witness each newspaper we see.
“The parting look,” “the bitter token,”
“The last despair,” “the first distress;”
“The anguish of a heart that’s broken—”
Do not these crowd the daily press ?
If then our misnamed “heartless city,”
Can so much sympathy bestow;
If there is so much public pity
For every kind of private woe ;
Why not for me ?—my care’s more real
Than that of all this rhyming band;
Whose hearts and tears are all ideal,
A sort of joint-stock kept on hand.
I’m one of those, I do confess,
Whom pity greatly can console ;
To tell, is almost to redress,
Whate’er the “sorrow of my soul.”
Now, I who thought the first* vexatious,
Despaired, and knew not what to do,
Abused the stars, called fate ungracious—
Here is a second Chinese view !
I sent to Messrs. Fisher, saying
The simple fact—I could not write ;
What was the use of my inveighing ?—
Back came the fatal scroll that night.
“But, madam, such a fine engraving,
The country, too, so little known!”
One’s publisher there is no braving—
The plate was work’d, “the dye was thrown.”
But what’s impossible, can never,
By any hazard come to be,
It is impossible that ever
This place can furnish hints to me.
O Captain Elliot, what could make you
Forsake the Indian fanes of yore ?
And what in mercy’s name could take you
To this most stupid Chinese shore ?
If in this world there is an object,
For pity which may stand alone,
It is a poet with no subject,
Or with a picture worse than none.
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"The Chinese Pagoda" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 27 Sep. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/45106/the-chinese-pagoda>.