A Legend of Teignmouth

A STORY of the olden time, when hearts
Wore truer faith than now—a carved stone
Is in a little ancient church which stands
Mid yonder trees, ’tis now almost defaced ;
But careful eye may trace the mould’ring lines,
And kind tradition has preserv’d the tale ;
I tell it nearly in the very words
Which are the common legend.

Some few brief hours, my gallant bark,
And we shall see the shore ;
My native, and my beautiful,
That I will leave no more.

And gallantly the white sails swept
On, on before the wind ;
The prow dash’d through the foam and left
A sparkling line behind.

The sun look’d out through the blue sky,
A gladsome summer sun ;
The white cliffs like his mirrors show
Their native land is won.

And gladly from the tall ship’s side,
Sir Francis hail’d the land,
And gladly in his swiftest boat,
Row’d onward to the strand.

“I see my father’s castle walls
Look down upon the sea ;
The red wine will flow there to-night,
And all for love of me.

“I left a gentle maiden there :
For all the tales they say
Of woman’s wrong and faithlessness
To him who is away ;

“I’ll wager on her lily hand,
Where’s still a golden ring ;
But, lady, ’tis a plainer one
That o’er the seas I bring.”

His bugle sound the turret swept
They meet him in the hall ;
But ’mid dear faces where is here,
The dearest of them all !
 
Ah ! every brow is dark and sad,
And every voice is low ;
His bosom beats not as it beat
A little while ago.

They lead him to a darken’d room.
A heavy pall they raise ;
A face looks forth as beautiful
As in its living days.

A ring is yet upon the hand,
Sir Francis, worn for thee.
Alas ! that such a clay-cold hand,
Should true love’s welcome be !

He kiss’d that pale and lovely mouth,
He laid her in the grave ;
And then again Sir Francis sail’d
Far o’er the ocean wave.

To east and west, to north and south,
That mariner was known ;
A wanderer bound to many a shore,
But never to his own.

At length the time appointed came,
He knew that it was come ;
With pallid brow and wasted frame,
That mariner sought home.

The worn-out vessel reach’d the shore,
The weary sails sank down ;
The seamen clear’d her of the spoils
From many an Indian town.
 
And then Sir Francis fired the ship ;
Yet tears were in his eyes,
When the last blaze of those old planks
Died in the midnight skies.

Next morning, ’twas a Sabbath morn
They sought that church, to pray ;
And cold beside his maiden's tomb
The brave Sir Francis lay.

O, Death ! the pitying that restored
The lover to his bride ;
Once more the marble was unclosed,
They laid him at her side.

And still the evening sunshine sheds
Its beauty o’er that tomb ;
Like heaven’s own hope, to mitigate
Earth’s too unkindly doom.
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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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"A Legend of Teignmouth" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 20 Apr. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/45159/a-legend-of-teignmouth>.

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