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Poem by Letitia Elizabeth Landon


Oxford Street


LIFE in its many shapes was there,
  The busy and the gay;
Faces that seemed too young and fair
  To ever know decay.

Wealth, with its waste, its pomp and pride,
  Led forth its glittering train;
And Povertys pale face beside
  Asked aid, and asked in vain.

The shops were filled from many lands,
  Toys, silks, and gems, and flowers;
The patient work of many hands,
  The hope of many hours.

Yet, mid lifes myriad shapes around
  There was a sigh of death;
There rose a melancholy sound,
  The bugles wailing breath.

They played a mournful Scottish air,
  That on its native hill
Had caught the notes the night-winds bear
  From weeping leaf and rill.

T was strange to hear that sad wild strain
  Its warning music shed,
Rising above lifes busy train,
  In memory of the dead.

There came a slow and silent band
  In sad procession by;
Reversed the musket in each hand,
  And downcast every eye.

They bore the soldier to his grave;
  The sympathizing crowd
Divided like a parted wave
  By some dark vessel ploughed.

A moment, and all sounds were mute,
  For awe was over all;
You heard the soldiers measured foot,
  The bugles wailing call.

The gloves were laid upon the bier,
  The helmet and the sword;
The drooping war-horse followed near,
  As he, too, mourned his lord.	

SlowlyI followed toothey led
  To where a church arose,
And flung a shadow oer the dead,
  Deep as their own repose.

Green trees were there,beneath the shade
  Of one was made a grave;
And there to his last rest was laid
  The weary and the brave.

They fired a volley oer the bed
  Of an unconscious ear;
The birds sprang fluttering overhead,
  Struck with a sudden fear.

All left the ground, the bugles died
  Away upon the wind;
Only the trees green branches sighed
  Oer him they left behind.

Again, all filled with light and breath,
  I passed the crowded street:
O great extremes of life and death,
  How strangely do ye meet!



Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Poem Theme: London

Letitia Elizabeth Landon's other poems:
  1. The Rush-Bearing at Ambleside
  2. Linmouth, or, The Country Retreat
  3. Cafes in Damascus
  4. Dartmouth Castle, or, The Sea-Shore
  5. The Evening Prayer, or The Orphan


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