The Avenger

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

It is customary among many of the Arab tribes, when a chief is slain, to preserve his sandals, which are given to his son or nearest kinsman when of age, to avenge his death.

Upon these sandals there is blood
It was not poured in battle flood ;
It was not shed in open fight,
With God and man to judge the right ;
It came not from the courser's flank,
Spurred foremost in the foremost rank : —
It was pour'd by a hidden foe,
It was shed by a dagger's blow ;
It was night hid the assassin's art,
And it came from thy father's heart.
Here is his sabre's shining length,
Have thou with it his arm of strength!
Young Arab, yonder is thy steed,
And Alla help thee at thy need.
  The boy rose up, and deadly thought
Across his cold pale forehead wrought:
There was red shame upon his cheek,
For much he feared his arm was weak ;
And thrice that arm in vain essay'd
To lift and poise his father's blade.
’Twas but a moment's pause — he swung
The blade across — to horse he sprung :
Away, away, not long the wind
Brought echoes of his speed behind.
  Now curses be upon the hand
That smote not with the warrior's brand ;
And curses on the dastard foe
Who let the night conceal his blow :
Desolate be his place of birth,
Desolate be his silent hearth ;
To him let earth refuse her food ;
Shrink from his burning lip the flood ;
To him let morning bring no dew
His wasted vigour to renew ;
And let the placid night deny
To him the quiet of her sky ;
Let him be childless ; like the reed
Be his friends in the hour of need ;
Let the wife of his bosom sigh
For one, his deadliest enemy ;
And let him die a death of shame,
The last of all his race and name.

  Scarce the green banner of the palm
Moves — like the moonlight on it calm.
Above, the firmament of blue,
Below, wood-fire and dusky hue ;
And, round it crouch'd, the wand'ring tribe
Pass song and tale, and laugh and gibe.
Uprose the midnight's latest star,
Hark ! rings a horse-tramp from afar ;
They know him by his lightning speed,
They know him by his raven steed ;
They know him by his cold pale brow,
The trophy at his saddle bow :
The blood drips from the sever'd head,
Well has the young Avenger sped —
His task is done, his strength is spent,
He staggers to his mother's tent :
Down drops the trophy from his hand,
And drops beside his crimson'd brand.
They crowd to hear his tale of death,
His lip has breath'd its lust of breath ;
And there is nothing left to tell
A tale of how they fought and fell,
  Race fated to their early doom,
The son sleeps in his father's tomb.
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on October 28, 2016


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 Avenger" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 12 Aug. 2020. <>.

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