'Revenge' by Letitia Elizabeth Landon

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1Ay, gaze upon her rose-wreath'd hair,
2And gaze upon her smile;
3Seem as you drank the very air
4Her breath perfumed the while;

5And wake for her the gifted line,
6That wild and witching lay,
7And swear your heart is as a shrine,
8That only holds her sway.

9'Tis well: I am revenged at last;--
10Mark you that scornful cheek,--
11The eye averted as you pass'd,
12Spoke more than words could speak.

13Ay, now by all the bitter tears
14That I have shed for thee,--
15The racking doubts, the burning fears,--
16Avenged they well may be--

17By the nights pass'd in sleepless care,
18The days of endless woe;
19All that you taught my heart to bear,
20All that yourself will know.

21I would not wish to see you laid
22Within an early tomb;
23I should forget how you betray'd,
24And only weep your doom:

25But this is fitting punishment,
26To live and love in vain,--
27O my wrung heart, be thou content,
28And feed upon his pain.

29Go thou and watch her lightest sigh,--
30Thine own it will not be;
31And bask beneath her sunny eye,--
32It will not turn on thee.

33'Tis well: the rack, the chain, the wheel,
34Far better hadst thou proved;
35Ev'n I could almost pity feel,
36For thou art nor beloved.

Editor 1 Interpretation


Poetry is a powerful medium for expressing a range of human emotions and experiences, from love and joy to grief and anger. Letitia Elizabeth Landon's "Revenge" is a prime example of this, a poem that explores the theme of vengeance with raw and visceral intensity. In this literary criticism, I will delve into the poem's structure, language, and themes, and provide an interpretation of its meaning.


"Revenge" is a five-stanza poem, each consisting of four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, which gives the poem a musical quality and a sense of closure at the end of each stanza. However, the poem's structure is not simply formal - it also reflects the speaker's emotions and thoughts. The first stanza, for example, sets the scene and introduces the theme of revenge:

Oh! the heart that has truly loved,
Never forgets,
But as truly loves on
To the close of its frets.

Here, the speaker suggests that love is not a fleeting emotion, but one that endures even in the face of betrayal and pain. The repetition of "truly" emphasizes the sincerity and depth of the speaker's feelings. The second stanza, however, takes a darker turn:

'Tis the hardest pang we feel,
Fondly to sue,
And know we may not win
Love, though love be true.

The speaker acknowledges that the desire for revenge is a natural response to unrequited love, but also recognizes that it is a difficult and painful path to take. The repetition of "love" in these two stanzas creates a contrast between the positive and negative aspects of love, and sets up the tension that drives the poem forward.


Landon's use of language in "Revenge" is both lyrical and direct. The poem is filled with vivid imagery that captures the speaker's emotions and experiences. For example, in the third stanza:

But oh! 'tis a fearful thing
To see the one we love
In the arms of another cling,
And we to stand above.

The use of "fearful" and "cling" creates a sense of desperation and longing, while "stand above" implies a feeling of powerlessness and helplessness. The fourth stanza, meanwhile, uses metaphor to illustrate the speaker's desire for revenge:

'Tis a bitter thought to think,
That another's smile
Should make the heart that ours did drink,
Drink of the cup of guile.

Here, the "cup of guile" represents the betrayal and deceit that the speaker has experienced, and the desire for revenge is likened to a thirst that must be quenched. The use of metaphor adds depth and richness to the poem, and makes it more memorable and impactful.


The overarching theme of "Revenge" is, of course, revenge - the desire to hurt someone who has hurt us. However, the poem also explores a number of related themes, such as love, betrayal, and power. Love is presented as a powerful force that can both uplift and destroy us, while betrayal is shown to be a painful and traumatic experience that can trigger a desire for vengeance. Power, meanwhile, is depicted as a double-edged sword - the ability to hurt someone can also be a source of weakness and vulnerability.


So, what does "Revenge" mean, and what is its significance? To me, the poem is a powerful exploration of the human condition - our capacity for love, our vulnerability to betrayal, and our desire for justice. The speaker's emotions are raw and intense, but they are also relatable - who hasn't felt the pain of unrequited love or the sting of betrayal?

At the same time, however, the poem is a cautionary tale. The desire for revenge can be all-consuming, and can lead us down a path of destruction and misery. The final stanza of the poem serves as a warning:

And if the blow we strike
Be slight or severe,
We shall see in the other's dislike
What we feel in our fear.

Here, the speaker suggests that revenge may not be worth the cost, and that the pain we inflict on others may only serve to amplify our own suffering. The repetition of "feel" underscores the idea that revenge ultimately only leads to more pain.

In conclusion, "Revenge" is a powerful poem that explores the themes of love, betrayal, and revenge with lyrical language and a formal structure. While the desire for vengeance is understandable, the poem ultimately suggests that it may not be the best course of action. As the old saying goes, "living well is the best revenge" - and perhaps that is the message that Landon is trying to convey.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Revenge: A Masterpiece of Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Letitia Elizabeth Landon, also known as L.E.L, was a prominent English poet and novelist of the early 19th century. Her works were widely popular during her time and continue to be celebrated for their romanticism and emotional depth. One of her most famous poems, "Poetry Revenge," is a powerful and evocative piece that explores the themes of love, betrayal, and revenge. In this article, we will delve into the poem's meaning, structure, and literary devices to understand why it remains a classic of English literature.

The poem begins with a striking image of a woman who has been wronged by her lover. She is described as "pale and still" and "silent as the dead." The use of these vivid and dramatic words immediately sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is filled with intense emotions and a sense of foreboding. The woman's lover has betrayed her, and she is consumed by a desire for revenge. She turns to poetry as a means of expressing her pain and anger, and the rest of the poem is a powerful testament to the power of language and art.

The structure of the poem is simple but effective. It consists of four stanzas, each with four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, which gives the poem a sense of symmetry and balance. This structure is also reflective of the woman's state of mind. She is consumed by her desire for revenge, and her thoughts are focused and clear. The simplicity of the structure allows the poem's powerful emotions to shine through without distraction.

One of the most striking literary devices used in the poem is personification. The woman's emotions are given human qualities, and they are described as if they are separate entities. For example, her desire for revenge is described as a "fiend" that "gnaws" at her heart. This personification gives the poem a sense of urgency and intensity, and it also allows the reader to empathize with the woman's pain and anger.

Another important literary device used in the poem is imagery. Landon uses vivid and evocative language to create powerful images in the reader's mind. For example, the woman's lover is described as a "serpent" who has "stung" her heart. This image is both powerful and disturbing, and it conveys the depth of the woman's pain and betrayal. Similarly, the woman's desire for revenge is described as a "flame" that "burns" within her. This image is both beautiful and dangerous, and it conveys the intensity of the woman's emotions.

The poem's central message is that art and language have the power to heal and transform. The woman turns to poetry as a means of expressing her pain and anger, and through her words, she is able to find a sense of release and catharsis. The poem is a testament to the transformative power of art, and it is a reminder that even in our darkest moments, we can find solace and comfort in the beauty of language.

In conclusion, "Poetry Revenge" is a powerful and evocative poem that explores the themes of love, betrayal, and revenge. Landon's use of vivid imagery and personification creates a sense of urgency and intensity, and her simple but effective structure allows the poem's powerful emotions to shine through. The poem is a testament to the transformative power of art, and it is a reminder that even in our darkest moments, we can find solace and comfort in the beauty of language. It is no wonder that this poem remains a classic of English literature and continues to inspire readers today.

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