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Poem by Letitia Elizabeth Landon


Cemetery of the Smolensko Church


They gather, with the summer in their hands,
The summer from their distant valleys bringing;
They gather round the church in pious bands,
With funeral array, and solemn singing.

The dead are their companions; many days
Have past since they were laid to their last slumber;
And in the hurry of life's crowded ways,
Small space has been for memory to cumber.

But now the past comes back again, and death
Asketh its mournful tribute of the living:
And memories that were garner' d at the heart,
The treasures kept from busier hours are giving.

The mother kneeleth at a little tomb,
And sees one sweet face shining from beneath it;
She has brought all the early flowers that bloom,
In the small garden round their home, to wreath it.

Friend thinks on friend; and youth comes back again
To that one moment of awaken'd feeling;
And prayers, such prayers as never rise in vain,
Call down the heaven to which they are appealing.

It is a superstitious rite and old,
Yet having with all higher things connexion;
Prayers, tears, redeem a world so harsh and cold,
The future has its hope, the past its deep affection.

The Cemetery of the Smolensko Church is situated about two versts from Petersburgh on one of the islands on the mouth of the Neva, and less than quarter of a mile from the gulf of Finland.

The curious ceremony alluded to, takes place yearly, when the Russians gather front all parts, to scatter flowers on the graves, and to mourn above the dead, and afterwards proceed to regale themselves with soup, fruit of all kinds, and wine; in many instances spreading their cloths on the very graves over which they had bїen bitterly mourning. (Author's Note)



Letitia Elizabeth Landon


Letitia Elizabeth Landon's other poems:
  1. Amelioration and the Future, Man's Noble Tasks
  2. Fragment (It is not spring, but still the new-come year)
  3. The Tournament
  4. The Nameless Grave
  5. Cafes in Damascus


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