The Orphan Ballad Singers

O, WEARY, weary are our feet,
  And weary, weary is our way ;
Through many a long and crowded street
  We’ve wandered mournfully to-day.
My little sister she is pale;
  She is too tender and too young
To bear the autumn’s sullen gale,
  And all day long the child has sung.

She was our mother’s favourite child,
  Who loved her for her eyes of blue,
And she is delicate and mild,
  She cannot do what I can do.
She never met her father’s eyes,
  Although they were so like her own ;
In some far distant sea he lies,
  A father to his child unknown.

The first time that she lisped his name,
  A little playful thing was she ;
How proud we were,—yet that night came
  The tale how he had sunk at sea.
My mother never raised her head ;
  How strange, how white, how cold she grew !
It was a broken heart they said—
  I wish our hearts were broken too.

We have no home—we have no friends,
  They said our home no more was ours ;
Our cottage where the ash tree bends,
  The garden we had filled with flowers.
The sounding shells our father brought,
  That we might hear the sea at home ;
Our bees, that in the summer wrought
  The winter’s golden honeycomb.

We wandered forth mid wind and rain,
  No shelter from the open sky ;
I only wish to see again
  My mother’s grave, and rest and die.
Alas, it is a weary thing
  To sing our ballads o’er and o’er ;
The songs we used at home to sing—
  Alas, we have a home no more !
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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 Orphan Ballad Singers" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 1 Jun 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/45278/the-orphan-ballad-singers>.

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