Windleshaw Abbey

Mark you not yon sad procession,
  'Mid the ruin'd abbey's gloom,
Hastening to the worm's possession,
  To the dark and silent tomb!

See the velvet pall hangs over
  Poor mortality's remains;
We should shudder to discover
  What that coffin's space contains.

Death itself is lovely—wearing
  But the colder shape of sleep;
Or the solemn statue bearing
  Beauty that forbids to weep.

But decay—the pulses tremble
  When its livid signs appear:
When the once-loved lips resemble
  All we loathe, and all we fear.

Is it not a ghastly ending
  For the body's godlike form,
Thus to the damp earth descending,
  Food and triumph to the worm?

Better far the red pile blazing
  With the spicy Indian wood,
Incense unto heaven raising
  From the sandal oil's sweet flood.

In the bright pyre's kindling flashes,
  Let my yielded soul ascend;
Fling to the wild winds my ashes
  'Till with mother-earth they blend.

Not so,—let the pale urn keep them;
  Touch'd with spices, oil, and wine;
Let there be some one to weep them;
  Wilt thou keep that urn? Love mine!
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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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"Windleshaw Abbey" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 17 Feb. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/52458/windleshaw-abbey>.

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