The White Swan of Well

Here when the winds were soft, the faery swan
    Clear from the flood her ebon oars would shake,
    Would of her wings a snowy pillow make,
And back reclining, bid the breezes fan,
Then swiftly silent, as a Faery can,
    Pleased with her image, she her way would take,
    Her own sweet will her rudder, down the lake,
While on before, the courier ripples ran.
But if the summer scented breeze should fail
To fill with speed enough her delicate sail,
    Then would she drop into the wave an oar,
    And push indignant to the neighbour shore,
Here anchored in the lily beds would keep,
Until the truant breezes broke her sleep.



A Harvest Festival

At Wray

Betimes tonight the milkmaid fills her pail,
    Tonight the dairy bowls may gather cream,
    Early tonight the ploughmen loose their team,
The thrasher shuts the barn, & leaves his flail,
The miller too shall sooner stay his sail,
    And scantly shall the cottage tapers gleam.
    Then smock’d & glad of heart, the people stream
Up to the festal Church that crowns the vale.
Thro’ flower-deck’d doors of God’s own House they come
    Young, Old, Rich, Poor, the Master & the Hind,
    The Lord of Harvest praise with equal mind,
With equal voices shout the Harvest Home,
While from the wreathèd corn that twines above
The preacher tells God’s bounty, claims their love.

22 Sept. 1874



To a Robin

Thou full-eyed bird that /hauntest/singest/lovest/ daylight’s end
    And listening questionest the quiet ground
    Whether thy /evening/sunset/ meal may there be found
Thou dost the /lonely/weary/ gardener befriend
His rustling rake and hoe thou dost attend,
    And where the blackest mulberries abound
    Thou perching trillest out thy simple sound
And to his heart thy solacing canst send.
Say is it /sadness/sweetness/ that thy heart conceives
    From Autumn silence & from falling leaves
    That we, who know thee praise thy homely tongue.
Or is it, Robin, thou canst understand,
That legend sympathy that stayed the hand
    Kept thy warm eggs & spared thy speckled young?

Sept: 1874



“Sister Constance”

Sweet “Sister Constance”, would your life were mine?
    So purely fed, so consecrate to Rule,
    Then would no peevish fret, no foolish pule
Creep in a sour winter to my prime.
But yours, your life is ever Autumn time,
    Season of fruitful good, and quiet cool,
Your eyes are ever with your heart at school,
Your ears are mellow with the Vesper chime.
    Oh! hands of “pure religion undefiled,”
    That comfort age, & tend the sickly child,
Oh! hearts not ever shadowed with a doubt,
And doors that keep peace in & jarring out,
    Well may the warriors in the noisy strife
    Win through your prayers, & thank the cloistered life.

Kilburn. 1875



In Memoriam Lady Franklin

Buried in the Catacombs, Kensal Green

Yes, lay her here for she can pay the dues,
    Her voice was once a trumpet to the State
    So she shall rest behind this mouldy grate
And dry to dust within these charnel flues,
Not much to win & little more to lose!
    Vain show to vainer fashion dedicate!
    A little later shall rust eat her date,
And rude eyes longer win the question “whose?”
If with the coffin nails her name must fall,
Her honour with the worms that cease to crawl,
    She claims such pitiful indulgence then,
But better had her bones been laid to earth,
In that plain land that /blessed her hero’s birth/gave her lord his worth/
    Land of wide skies, wide acres, generous men.




Magdalen Meadows

Oh! how shall I sing of thy meadows surrounded,
    With trees and sweet waters, with flowers and birds,
The cuckoo that cried, or the squirrel that bounded,
    The belling of deer, the soft lowing of herds.

Tho’ to lands of new sight & strange growth you may travel
    May dig for rich treasure, you never shall know,
Such coral and silver of fish on the gravel
    Such trees shaking gold, in deep waters below.

The paths are mosaic, the pebbles are shining,
    Lights flicker and dance from cool arches of green
And the blue periwinkle like turquoise is turning
    And an emerald fretwork grows glancing between.

Hark, hark, how the air is athirst(?) with the singing,
    There is song from the branches, & song from the grass,
The mad merry bells a full message are swinging
    And the men laugh aloud, light of heart, as they pass.

Not a heart that is sad, not a face that is shewing
    The sickness of age, or the sadness of ruth,
Sweet Magdalen Meadows your charms are renewing
    I feel once again all the blessings of youth.




The Rooks in Magdalen Walk

Cheered by the voice of the mysterious spring
    They pull the buds to build their nests withal
    The blossom’d elm - & each to other call
Those gloss coat builders with wild jargoning
They, weary workers, know no rest of wing,
    From mists of morn to mists of evenfall.
    Plying their clamourous tasks about the Hall,
Their tasks made light of love’s imagining.
Is it wise things that they have understood
    The children’s picnic pleasure in the wood
    That build their bowers of green in fancy’s mood?
Or is great Love the leader of their quest
Love that can choose the Blossoms fittest, best,
    Love that compacts & crowns the swinging nest?



The Sabbath

Born of the bells thou sweetest day of seven
    Old ? hath the worn out drudge’s fee,
    Land unto land across a restless sea
Harmonious linking with high thought of heaven,
Thou too with holy sense of joy can leaven
    Those floating houses that in mid ocean be.
    Minding old days the sailor bends the knee
In tropic calm, through icy tempests driven.
    Come not in pomp from populous cities blown
    With noise of indistinguishable bells,
But rather where the grazing kine have known
    The restful message of thy Sabbath knells,
Where the grey Sexton’s use hath made his own
The chime that to the farms its’ simple summons tells.

Aug. 1874



Herring Fishing


The sun had flushed the red rocks into blood
    Had climbed and died beyond in utter pain,
    Upon his skirts hung fringed a drift of rain
And after soughed the sea in sullen mood.
A sad wind lours beneath the growing night
    From deepening valleys of the shrinking sea
    And flinging thunder at the foaming quay
Storms to the stars up yonder wooded height.
There in her grumbling chimney sits the crone
    And tells her tale of shipwreck oer & oer.
    The mother’s heart is cut upon the shore
She sings her cot-song in an undertone.
Hark! Hark! that hands rough rattle on the pane
    The herring fisher is safe home again.

1 Aug: 1873

N. B. Herring boats go out at sunset.



The Drought

June! and the doors of heaven are shut, no rain
    Falls to allay the universal thirst
    The flowers sickening die before they burst
And yellow death lies on the nice green plain.

No rain! not e’en a dew drop, while the Earth
    Pants, & the worm is shrivelled in the dust,
    The Chrysalis essays to pierce the crust
Of Earth, but fails, and finds a death in Birth.

Scorched all the meads, & all the springs are dried
    Where one time drank the mothers of the fold,
E’en the thirsty lambs long grown too old
    Noseling the once full udder are denied.

The water-snake that hails across the load
    Is seared, & hissing seeks some shady pool
    The crevice-hidden slug in search of cool
Is stung to madness in his new abode.

The corn that gave large promise in the spring
    Is yellowed ‘ere its growth attained an ear
    And all the land is stricken with the fear
Of famine & the woes that famines bring.

No rain! the birds with /unceasing/instinctive/ care
    Wearily seeking the accustomed food
    Can scarce find water for their callow brood
And feel no freshness in the fiery air.

Yet they despair not, but their voices pour
    In prayerful praise to Him who holds the rain
    Trusting he has not made them all in vain,
Knowing he ne’er deserted them before.

Uppingham. 11 June 1870



Sonnet on Chatterton

The fairest flowers soonest fade away
And fruits that grow to ripeness ere their time
Are often blasted by one treacherous rime,
All unexpected in the month of May.
E’en so fell blighted thy too brilliant day
For this cold world – Unhappy Chatterton!
Scarce had’st thou life, when lo! thy light was gone
And ceased the proud beginnings of thy lay
Oh! what awaited thy too precocious powers?
The fearful racking of thy youthful brain
Thy daily tasks – thy sleepless midnight hours
And search of musty records all were vain
When Pride stepped in & goaded thee to die
Rather than live in cruel beggary.

Uppingham. Aug: 1869

The first sonnet I ever wrote.



[English Prize verse]

Midnight is past – the pouring rain
  Drives hitting on the window pane
        The west wind fiercely blows;
No cats, or Tabby, black or white*
  Have left the warm hearthstones tonight
        To soil their dainty toes.

The rain has ceased; with sharp quick cries
  Around the house a swallow flies,
        And tells us dawn is here;
Then slowly from the dripping trees
  Voice answers voice, and by degrees
        Birds twitter everywhere.

Night’s mantle slips, and now again
  The south wind turns the steeple vane
        And light awhile is grey;
Then sudden in the dawning East
  A long cloud lights its rose flushed breast
        And ushers in Today.

Up rose the sun, and wondrous bright
  Bathed bluff Northampton’s hills in light
        Streamed up each opening vale
Peered through the triple window’d spire
  Set the school chapel all on fire
        And made the dawning pale.

But soon each tiny burning-glass
  That hung on tree, on bud, on grass
        Its spirit power would win;
And tired of catching solar rays
  Rises to Heaven in purple haze
        Like Eastern fabled Djinn.

It wraps from sight the distant wood
  Steals up the vale & o’er the flood,
        Where swimmers are at play,
Then passes by the cricket field,
  Where boys are met to win or yield,
        For ’tis a match today.

It fades, and leaden clouds on high,
  Portending thunder, fill the sky;
        Hush’d are the blackbirds songs,
The late-come swifts now skim the ground,
  To seek the gnats that there are found,
        In wavy buzzing throngs.

But see the long imprisoned sun,
  Bursts from amid the cloudlets dun,
        And bids the blackbirds sing;
Now snow-white fleecy clouds are seen
  Passing their mirage o’er the green,
        In shadows that they fling.

We stroll; the erst so dark green wheat
  Shines white & wan about our feet
        Washed by the heavy rains.
Corncrakes are busy in the grass
  And larks spring up as on we pass
        To carol evening strains.

Yon old green wall is bright with trails
  Of frosted silver, where the snails
        Have passed along, last night;
See this huge caterpillar track
  His way with undulating back,
        Now swollen, now slim and slight.

That nettle bed is all alive
  With hairy shapes that grow and thrive
         And die with wings at last.
Scarce said, as if to verify
  My words, a shattered butterfly
        An orange-tip flew past.

Then on through meads whose king-cups pour
  About our feet their golden store,
        The dust of fairy-land.
And may-flies rising as we walk
  With galaxy wings, from stalk to stalk
        Flit on – a lazy band.

We paused, ’neath chestnut trees, whose flowers
  Like cressets hung in faery bowers,
        Gleamed in the evening light;
When from the topmost boughs of all
  Two cuckoos flew, without a call
        Nor wishing us goodnight.

Here myriad emerald coated things,
  With tiny ever-sparkling wings
        Creep up each grassy blade
There lady-birds sit ruby bright
  And spiders, scarlet spots of light,
        Fleck here & there the shade.

Then Home – the Eastern sky’s aglow,
  Its huge clouds move majestic, slow,
        Illumined from the West;
But sudden all their glory flies,
  The life of light within them dies
        The sun has sunk to rest.

Uppingham. 1 June 1869

  • Alluding to the cats that prowl about the School House wall at night.


Early Autumn

  Mid August

Autumn is coming, quick the lime leaves fall,
And falling strew a carpet for her feet,
See to the dusty hedgerows straight she goes,
The blackbird hears her coming & is mute.
Then down she sits, the pink five petal’d flowers
That in or childhood, conjured happiest dreams
Fades into white & flutters to the ground,
She snatches at the bearded thistles near
And at a breath, she scatters to the air
A thousand wingéd messengers of down,
To fly & tell her           she is there.
Then with the silver bodkin, thus devised
And purple vetchlings with convolvulus
Enwreathed, she proudly decks her golden hair
While ever and anon to wile the time
She strings her armlets of crude blackberries
That grow to pink beneath her ripening hand.
Ay, and the grey-green sloes, and carelessly
She catches the white butterflies that pass
Poor silly things, telling their tiny loves,
And tried, to each blue harebell blowing round
She gives the tinkling of a silver voice
Then tunes them into concert with her own.
And sings—

Song of Autumn

I come to still the throstle’s note
    To see the cuckoo fly
To bid the robin’s ruddy throat
    Breathe rapt’rous melody.

I come to wrap the world in mist
    To gild the long green lands
To tell the harvest-man to twist
    His rope of oaten-strands.

I come to help the groaning wain
    Drag slowly home its store
To hear the flashing flail again
    Upon the threshing floor.

I come to watch the plaited snake
    Laborious cast its skin
And creeping noiseless from the brake
    A new garbed life begin.

I come to bid the ant take wings
    And hie him from his town
What tune the gay field-cricket sings
    And woods are flecked with brown.

I come to weave the spikéd furze
    With webs of silver fair
To scatter wavy gossamers
    Through the scarce breathing air.

I come to see the mallow creep
    The oak its acorn shed
The hawthorn tree its berries steep
    In dye of crimson red.

Thence to the golden tressed fields of corn
    She speeds; Lo! here she urges to their toll
The swarthy reapers / joying much to see
The hissing scythe lay in one moment low,
A whole year’s work of earth & sun & man /
While there she bids the honest spearers vie
In building up the quickly growing wain
Or, stooping, plucks a hairy poppy bud
From out the swathe that bleeds within her hand.
Next, to the still green woodland she repairs,
The fan-leaved chestnut views her as she comes,
Burst through their spiked mail the impatient fruits
And blush, like seedlings, of the sycamore
She plucks the clustering nuts & reckless robs
The grape tree of the humble cottager,
Then pointing, pauses at a grass choked spring
To wash her juice-sprent fingers, scarce arrived,
The willing water bubbles to the brim,
And drowning innocent forget me nots
Through long disuséd channels threads its way.
By now, the vetchlings & the wild convolvulus
Have faded, so she braids her loosened locks,
With crimson knots of silk from the wild briar,
And haw-berries all deftly interlaced.
Above her caw a clamorous cloud of rooks,
The hare hops by her harmless & unharmed,
The nut-brown partridge calls her strong wing’d brood
Around her feet nor dreams of coming woe
The squirrel spies & remembering hastes
To gather acorns for his winter store,
Up mounts the moon, full-orbed she lays her down
The woolly coated fox cubs frolicking
Play round her as she sleeps & in the morn,
The robin wakes her, singing from the spray.
She rising, bathed in golden light, the bloom
Mist made scarce sun-disperséd from her cheeks,
And stealing from the soft green lighted woods,
Hies to the garden of some lordly hall,
And orchards smiling with a bounteous hope.
Arrived, she, tapping at the humming hives
Whispers the brown-winged bees to bide at home.
Content with gotten treasure – and they bide –
Then shakes late roses, ruthless, to the ground,
And dulls the flames that ’ere her coming flared
Thence to the orchard passes, and the trees,
Well laden, bow in homage to the earth;
She twines and breaks the weather-rusted shreds
That long had held the pear tree to the wall,
Startling the swallow peering from its nest,
And leaves it swinging in the gentle breeze,
While amber treasures trembling as she nears
Quick from their leafy lurking-places drop.



Napoleon III

Now they proclaim him a traitor
    They who just chose him, their hero & lord
Hard to be bonded, yet easily parted
    Fickle and fitful, untrue to their word.

He, for long years, was your bulwark, ye knew it,
    Brand him, when fallen, a coward? Ye lie,
Boldly he staked on one throw, and he threw it,
    Bravely he lost, and his wish was to die.

Shame on you, France, while your sons called him craven
    They whose best thousands in battle he slew,
Wiped out the mark that your false tongues had graven,
    Gave to his desperate daring its due.

Told how, while words he had vauntingly spoken
    Rang in his ears all that terrible day,
Charged he with columns all reeling and broken,
    Strove, God forgive him, to fall in the fray.

Told how with tear in his eyes, while the sorrow
    For those who fell round him nigh frenzied his breast
He swore with, an oath unaccomplished, the morrow
    Should find him a victor or dead with the rest.

Better a captive to live where with pity
    Men will regard thee, thy foes though they be,
Than to return to that merciless city,
    Hooted and held in derision, but free.

Aye, though the eagles that fluttered above thee,
    Slain by the hands that once fed them, are dead,
Others there are that will grow up, and love thee,
    Younglings that feathered, will fly in their stead.

Sept: 1870



Loss of 'The Captain'

An angry wind in the half-furled shrouds
    Laughed loud with a fiendish glee
And a pitying moon through the storm rent clouds
    Looked down on a surging sea.

Slowly but surely the huge ship keeled
    So slow that the iron tongue
 Of the deck bell struck that one deep note pealed
   Then motionless, voiceless, hung.

A downward plunge like a wounded whale
    All sudden, unseen, scarce a scream,
Only the voice of the growling gale
    And the snort of the wave-choked steam.

A moment fraught with the bitterest throes
    Of death neath the ravenous wave
Another, five hundred spirits arose
    Each, from its watery grave.

One plunge, and five hundred mothers were left
    To weep for five hundred sons,
And a navy, queen of the seas was reft,
    Of her loudest thundering guns.

The sailor lad dreamed, as he swung in his sleep
    Of his home and his mother’s love
And he finished the dream ’twixt the restless deep
    And the shuddering stars above.

Down went the ship with her ghastly freight
    To the depths of a darker night
Nothing to show of her fearful fate
    But the loss of a lantern light.

Fathom on fathom, the huge hulk sank
    Like a guilty thing, while a sail
Or a splintered bar or a parted plank
    Sped up with its terrible tale.

Fathom on fathom, a shivering shock
    The snap of an iron mast
A clanging on chains on a wave worn rock
    And the dead are at rest at last.

There though all else be convulsed betide
    Pent up in their iron tomb
They’ll sleep side by side whatever betide
    In peace till the call of doom.

No yew trees shadow their bones as they lie
    But giant sea-ferns instead
And the finny sea monsters gather to pry
    Unscared at the fresh-come dead.

They fell not in fight, fury-flushed with the din
    Of the glorious battle cry
They heard but the roar as the waves rushed in
    And death was their victory.

Weep England, weep, thou mayest labour give
    Fresh voice to far greater guns
But never again to thy need will hie
    The least of thy silent sons.

         7 Sept: 1870


Passionate Grief

There’s autumn in the falling leaf
    And autumn in the songless dawn
There’s autumn in the sun-gilt sheaf
    And in the daisy starless lawn.

There’s autumn in the tedded hay
    And in the lush grown aftermath
In willow sallows waving grey
    And beechen mast upon the path.

There’s autumn in the nerveless wing
    Of life-enamoured butterflies
And autumn in the gathering
    Of restless swallows in the skies.

There’s autumn on this wold-born hill               /Halton/
    And in the mistful fen below
The air breathes autumn scent, but still
    No autumn comes upon my love.

Sept: 1871


To a Snail

Poor snail! from whom the nomad Scythian
Beneath the stars took lesson unawares,
No longer travelled homeless, but began
To sleep secure from heart invading cares,
It pleasures me to watch you graze a plant
With mild majestic motion, wondrous ease,
In miniature a howdah’d elephant
Turning and twisting wither ward you please
To view your silken-braided coat of mail
The crystal funnels of your shooting eyes
That feel the breath of roses all so frail
Each cautious nether-horn that hand-like tries
Where treachery lurks, and least mistrustful slides
Back to itself and hesitating hides.


Continued No. II

When now the sun, hid by a veil of rain
Itself had woven in the summer’s sky
Has peeped to view the gladdened green again
Abroad then little robber dost thou hie
For thou art proud and know’st thy rain-dewed shell
Burnished as Tritons then becomes thee well.
Wondering, I watch thee, a poor shattered thing
Building, God-taught thy spiralled house anew
Framing with nice exactness ring on ring
Nor till completed painting in each line
Poor snail man wars thee down, nor man alone
Oft loving have I traced where thou hast been
Walk’d on a silver pavement like a queen
And found thy house in ruin its owner gone.

Sept: 1871


In Memoriam

    E.M.R. and D.A. 14 Jan: 1872

Now five and twenty times the sound
    Of shuddering bells on Christmas morn
Had shook the ledge laid snow to ground
    Since Maiden Margaret was born.

And four & twenty springs had strown
    Their emerald dust upon the plain
And four & twenty autumns flown
    The myriad mills to crush the grain.

Then came a spring and when the thrush
    Had scarce ’gan whistle to the fen
And when from barren bush to bush
    Flits carolling the russet wren.

Oh! woe the day that it should come
    The merry Maiden Margaret
Felt love for other than her home
    Oh! joy deep mingled with regret.

She’ll never gather violets more
    Or fine flowers from the banks of Thame
Nor girlish come to ply the oar
    On Isis as she one time came.

The village maids will miss her smile
    The matrons shake their heads, and say,
“The times are hard and dear the while
    Maid Margaret abides away.”

And in the church grey tottering men
    Will sigh to see an empty chair
And wish they had not bided, when
    They went away, that happy pair.

Hast thou not seen the wilding vine
    Make doubly beautiful the tree
It clings to, such a lot is thine
    So cling and make him worthy thee.

To be more worthy, were to bring
    An angel back to earthly state
But being worthy, let him fling
    His strong arm round his tender mate.

And towards her love’s assistance bend
    To climb the stair way of the years
And hand in hand unto the end
   To joy her joy, to weep her tears.

3 Feb: 1872

[Note added by MJ Allen - E.M.R. is Emily Margaret Rawnsley, one of Hardwicke’s older sisters. D. A. is D. Arden, her fiancé. They married on 23 April 1872.]


‘A wasted life is like a wreck that lies’

A wasted life is like a wreck that lies
Half sunk in sands of fearful solitude
As ’twere the ribs of some huge shore-washed whale
That once plunged master of the mighty storm
But driven by that strange ocean river came
From realms Hyperborean and from seas
Rough with their steel blue mounds of hillocked ice
And sickening in these southern latitudes
And summer simmering seas forgot its strength
And helpless drove upon these sandy shoals
And lashing anger felt the cruel tide
Forsake its slimy sand-bespotted bulk,
And all the tortures of the high noon sun,
So gaping died the prey of pigmy men,
Who, soon as death had dimmed the giants’ eyes,
Clomb hand in hand the mountain of warm flesh,
And with mock bravery, piercing thro’ the depths
Of fatness, struck the mammoth’s purple heart,
And laughed to see the red tide flush the sand,
Or, doubting if the brute might still relax
The stiffening sinews of the death-wide jaws,
Bade their rough dames and wondering children walk
Into the mighty bone-fenced mouth, and take
Clusters of clinging tangle and sea shells
To deck their house shelves as memorials.

July 1872



The Invitation to the Wedding

Shepherds today your flock may wander wide
    To other fountains and to other ferns
Fling each his hand bright hazel crook aside
                    They will return.

Ye ploughmen leave your dew-drenched horses free
    And give a second Sabbath to your team
Let their hoofs gather rust nor care to see
                  The furrow gleam.

Hide reapers hide your sickles in the corn
    Last night the poppies slept not sick for dread,
But bid them flash their banner to this morn
                  A deeper red.

Ho! fishers drag your weary boats ashore
    Through their old sides the sun shall seam(?) a way
Your babes shall handle the bread-winning oar
                  Mock men today.

Ye ships that in your pride come whitely winging
Round by the harvest, midway up the steep
Soon as ye hear the marriage bells a ringing
                                   All shorewards keep.

Old men creep down and mumbling blessings smile
And aged dames remember and be glad
Ye lovers envying mich away the while
                                   And maids be sad.

And, children, if a bride-crown ye must weave
Yet weave it all of lilies that pure flower
Starred the green dusk and lit for happy eve
                                  Her bridal bower.

For better wreaths the clematis shall twine
Laced by the thousand busy gossamers
And underneath these silver nets shall shine
                                  Fresh flowering furze.

Nor strew a painted pavement for the bride
The thyme a living path of scent hath blown
To keep her way their arms on either side
                                 The brambles thrown.

May such a sun as warms the gentian’s throat
Fling vale & upland to a winking haze
And such an air be stirring as may float
                                  The thistle faze.

May grasshoppers unnumbered minstrelsies
Harmonious make a trill at eve the lea
And chasing each his shadow butterflies
                                  Wing out to sea.

Sing man & maid & let your voices swell
The lark’s cloud song, the robins from the spray
Shout silence from the hill bid echo tell
                                                   The Holiday.


Buried on New Year’s Day 1876 /At Plumtree/

F. E. B.

Lay her upon the threshold of the year
Beneath its roundling Portals they who throng
Shall gaze & pass in weariness along
Or touch with hands of sympathy the bier.
The children have their earliest violets here
The sick take some small comfort & the strong
A little thought – And they who move among
Our petty discords peacefulness & cheer
And we – not all – who when this year has ended
Shall stand beside the next year’s opening door
Must know each other’s face & way is changed
But find her still & peaceful as before
And says: “She is but sleeping, first to make
The next world dearer for a lost friend’s sake.”

Halton Jan 4th


Lady Augusta Stanley

Wife of the Dean of Westminster, buried in Henry VII’s Chapel. 9 March 1876

“Feet to the lame & eyes unto the blind”!
To us who grope in learning’s mist & pray
That Christ will touch our eyes with healing clay
To those who in dark alleys crawled & pined.
True loyal woman, generous sovereign mind
Our eyes for tears are doubly dimmed today
As in the Royal treasure-house we lay
The chains that did thine eagle spirit bind.
Thy name shall most endearingly survive
Where Queens may pause, knights wonder, poets weep
Lie with the poor about thy sleep, and give
The nations abbey one more trust to keep.
Thine eyes are clearer, thou has passed the door
We are but children – love us evermore

15 March 1876



Died 25 July 1877. Buried at Welton 31 July. Aged 19 Years

Gone, & we fain would go! a broken heart
Sobs out the wish to bear thee company.
Great God of love and loss & agony,
Shew us the good, and we can bear the smart.
Was she too frail to bear the fever’s dart?
Too old to glad a mother’s fostering knee?
Too sad to enter into girlhood’s glee?
Too little loved to pain us as we part?
Nay – none of these – for she was lithe & strong
The love for mother, as in grace, had grown.
She led the laugh from morn till evensong
And shared our tears, at parting, with her own.
But unto Minnie only, was it given
The Virgin strength and youth to enter Heaven.

[Minnie Walls. Mention of her death in Catherine’s 1877-1882 diary, RR/1/6, p. 10.]



To a Robin

Bright bleeding breasted bird, great benison
Be thine! for I am sick at heart, & thou
Whilom thou singest from yon mist-black bough
Strikest a kindred heart-string, so sing on
This slumbrous silent dark September day
Were death but for thy presence. Thou disarmest
The fen-flown fog of chill, and tuneful charmest
The curious speckle-throat to join thy lay.
Men say that when on Calvary Christ died
Thou too wast there, thy voice in pain He heard
And blest thee, who in grief poor fluttering bird
Did’st after strive to staunch His bleeding side
Wherefore we harm thee not, and thou dost cheer
With song perpetual the livelong year.

Halton. Sept: 1871



To the West Wind

(from Clifton Down)

Magician wind, from off the western sea
Charming such health from yonder ?
Setting more? sail upon the timorous? wood
Flashing with brown the oak, with gold the lea.
Sending the sunshine streaming in the tree
Blowing to human hearts the thrush’s mood
Making men smile to feel the old Earth good
And scattering thro’ the air the wild lark’s glee.
Breathe through the Hawthorns of this happy down
Break all their pearls to starry fragrances
Make the green distance frown & laugh & frown
Pile high in heaven spring snow white palaces
Beat back its song into the blackbird’s face
And blow my love that sailed back to her love’s embrace.

Clifton College. 2 June 1877



Christmas Day at Halton 1874

Ring out old bells, where in the frost ye hang
Shake your glad tidings thro’ the dusky bars
There no stir abroad this morn that mars
Your music, oh, ring it as one time rang
The Heavenly Chorus when the planets sang
And sons of morning shouted to the stars
When the rough shepherd’s joy came unawares
To Mary smiling from her last birth pang.
Still as the years return the stars rejoice
The angels shout ye too must add your voice
To speed from tower to tower across the fen
The tale of Peace on Earth, good will to men
For unto us this day a son is given
Love breaks the bonds of Law & makes Earth Heaven.

Caythorpe 1874



In Memoriam

On seeing the monument to Sir John Franklin* on the morning of Lady Franklin’s funeral.

Quiet, and cold, and white as frozen snow!
Well has the master’s cunning hand expres’t
The honours on that honourable breast
The speaking eye, the calm command of brow.
Ah! if those eyes could weep, they would weep now!
Today we carry to a well-earned rest
One who hath need, not any more, of quest
Whose love out championed her marriage vow.
She needs no tomb, her monument shall be
The ancient bergs, that mound the Northern Sea,
And when to summer waters melting slip
Those giant crystals that enshrine thy ship
The men that sail where thou & thine do sleep
Shall tell her love more lasting, & as deep.

H.D.R. 23 July 1875

  • (Monument by Noble in Westminster Abbey)


A Valentine to the Lady Alice

Soothed with the murmur of the wind,
    The music of the grove,
Henceforth no maid can charm my mind,
    No woman’s lips sing love.
But Lady! then I did not know
The songs that from your dear lips flow.

Filled with the strength of rock & wood,
    Of the unceasing stream,
I said, no strength of womanhood
    So loveable can seem.
But Lady! then I did not know,
The strength you lend to things below.

The sun leapt forth, the hills were glad,
    Heaven frowned, the hills were grieved,
No face, when I was joyed or sad
    Such light and shade received.
But Lady! then I did not know
What sympathy your looks can show.

Shy mosses climb about the Croft,
    Dews fall, doves light around
Where can a woman’s ways so soft
    So gently sweet be found?
But Lady! then I did not know
Your hand, or hear your footsteps low.

I watched the pearl upon the flower,
    To mist, for blossoms break,
What Lady’s heart would melt an hour,
    For fellow mortal’s sake?
But Lady! then I did not know
To your unbending what we owe.

I saw the Pansies greyly blue,
    The speedwell bluely grey,
No woman’s eye can please with hue
    Or rest as much as they.
But Lady! then I did not know
That in your eyes the Heartsease grow.

The lake showed mountains far apart
   The sarn(?) brought near the sky
In what girl’s face was ever heart
    Shewn close, so faithfully?
But Lady! then I did not know
How true of soul your face can glow.

And since clear song, strength, sympathy,
    Soft ways, unselfishness,
True eyes, a face of honesty,
    One mortal may possess,
And you possess them, Lady, know
You are my Queen of Queens from now.

Uppingham. H.D.R. 1878


  A Valentine to Sir Herbert

Since you have never loved aright,
    Or loved to well awrong,
Sir Valentine, the lusty knight
    To yours this whole day long.

And thus he speaks, “To cure your ill,
    Unto a chemist take
And beg in powder or in pill
    These doses he will make.

One ounce of “Concentrated care
    For someone but yourself,”
One drachm of, “Wishes not to share
    The honours of the shelf.”

One ounce of, “Carefulness to find
    That women are not Joys,”
One drachm of, “Faith in female mind,
    Their power of sharing joys.”

One scruple add of, “Sympathy
    With maiden daintiness,”
Their Knowledge of the reason why
    The saying No or Yes.

One ounce of “Pride that will refuse
    To be by woman caught,”
But two of “Knowledge to amuse,
    Yet help by wit and thought.”

Six drachms of “Earnestness of life”
    One drachm of “Solitude”
Then Herbert, you may find a wife,
    And stick to her for good.

Uppingham. H.DR. 1878



Died April 26th 1880

Aye, leave him here, with the primroses above him,
He was so gentle and brave to the end;
Hands may not hold him now, hearts still may love him,
Eyes cannot see him but life call him friend.

Too little Earth, too much Heaven to be with us
More need to stay with us, less need to go
What! have we here so much pure light of day with us,
So little pain! we would still wish it so.

Quite old enough to know world ways were cruel,
Too young to feel how love helps and makes sweet,
His simple honour, affections clear jewel
Hung round a neck where the mothers hands meet.

Patient, unselfish his shield whitely shining
Bearing the name of the goodliest King
So for our sake he has gone unrepining
Down the deep vale where no echoes can ring.

How shall we honour him, how shall we render
Thanks to the boy whose so soon sheathed his sword?
Strive to be simpler, affectionate, tender,
Battle with selfishness, live for the Lord.

To leave him here in the stillest of places
Where the wold melts to the sea girdled fen
And while the tear drop is still on our faces
Let all our hearts sob an earnest amen.




(On the death of an infant. Thought suggested by a letter of Bp: Leighton to his brother-in-law)

And is indeed the pretty darling dead?
Nay! ? upon an angel’s breast
And put to sleep, where sleep is always best
His cot the grave, to wake in Heaven instead.
A little earlier he went to bed
As infants should, babes need a longer rest
While we, shame on us, are not yet undressed
But sit up idling, till the morn is red.
Red judgment morn! Dear child, we follow on
But we have much to do before we sleep
We needs must doff superfluous dress & don
The one white garment of repentance deep
That Death, who comes our flickering lamp to take
May find us quite composed to rest for Jesus’ sake.

HDR 14 Aug: 1879


A Wedding Sonnet

The wedding morn, at rising of the sun
I found two points of most translucent dew
Hung on a gossamer – a light wind blew
The gems slipt swift and silent into one
A larger world was mirrored thereupon
A stronger sun in liquid diamond grew
Up /from my feet /through the web/ a lark with singing flew
The dew drops fell the melody went on.
? of two souls, I cried, that worlds apart
Feel life’s thread tremble, for the end is near
Touched by love’s breath, to splendid oneness start
Give back more sunlight from a larger sphere.
Then pass, the song lives on, for Heaven above
Joys that sad earth has somewhere found true love.

H.D.R. 21 September 1880

The Bride

A reminiscence

With belted squire and shag-haired serving men
*Bernicia’s princely lords come there to see
**Was then St Wilfrid and the holy three
Who blessed this altar in Northampton’s fen
Beneath the bells, with sheepskin and rude pen
Careless of cause, forgetful of the fee
***The Witenagemot sitting did agree
That love was Robber royal, now as then
The Saxon porch n’er lifted prouder head
Than when it welcomed Alice to the door
For round her neck was hung by hands of poor
A memory-chain of kind things done and said
And passing up the silent Norman floor
She heard rich blessing from the holy dead.

HDR 21 Sept 80

* Bernack so called after King of Bernicia.
**St Wilfrid built the church & ? dedicated his churches to the same(?) saints.
***Witenagemot held their meetings under the Belfry tower.



The Stars on the Wedding Night

Through Galileo’s tube I looked to see
What stars burned o’er thy happy wedding night
So, Jupiter with his attendants bright
Shone in the south above the myrtle tree
Nor distant far, as close as worlds may be
Bowing obeisance Saturn wheeled in sight
An orb of sunshine, zoned about with light
Fit emblem, brother, of thy love and thee.
Oh! if refigured in September’s skies
I saw thee with thy bright eyed bridal train
Then faded dim before the glad surprise
Of thou two lives that shining one are twain.
Let bridal trains be dedicate to Jove
So Saturn shine, the type of wedded love.

HDR 21 Sept 1880


A Grandmother’s Dream

It was my own son’s son I thought to see
His arms outstretched, inviting me to play
And I, forgetful that my hairs were grey
Reached out, and took the lad upon my knee.
Such pure(?) blue eyes, such pretty coving glee
I could have kissed his dimpled cheek away
I strove to toss him, but a voice said “Nay,
“He is too lusty grown for such as thee.”
And then, I do remember, in my dream
How all the weight and sorrow of my years
Broke loose & down on his astonied cheek
Fell hot. But though the innocent could not speak
He looked such sweet reproach, my heart did seem
Quite reconciled, and half ashamed of tears.

HDR 17 May 1881


St Mary’s Church

When I remember how my spirits’ case
Is /as a/a most/ fitting garment newly made
Each morrow, and to mend what is decayed
How close the shuttles of the flesh must race
So this my soul’s enshrining. Then thy place
Seems fitly chosen. Mammon may invade
But thy great heart for Heaven walled in by trace
Beats close to the world for press of space
Swift go the wheels within the sounding walls
To weave what one day’s vacuity will soil
But thou great loom a higher task dost ply
Thy Hallelujahs enter to those halls
Thy organ notes make glad pale industry
Thy prayers come up & mix with poor men’s toil.

H.D.R. 21 June 1881


The Czar

Murdered March 1881

Black Ides of March when murder baffled long
    Right through the hands of Gods strong keeping broke
    And slew the victim with a double stroke
Of villainous spite as mad as it was strong
Is such the thanks that to the man belong
    Who smotes from off his peoples neck the yoke
    And while his hills still smelt of Battle smoke
Sowed seeds of peace & strove to right the wrong.
Dread Ides of March! The bursting of that bomb
    Was heard through Europe like as stubble flame
    Heart spreads to heart best fire of fiercest shame
    Wolves howl, the eagles cry, and ghouls of war
    Wring their red hands, above the murdered Czar
And Princes meet and tremble round his Tomb.



Clouds at Night Moving to the Sea

In April

Move to the sea in sable plumed might
    Ye silent guardians of the tender green
    In greater majesty ye march /so/thus/ seen
Ye whose bright cohorts filled the day with light
And as ye melt in yonder sea tonight
    Whisper the waves what blessings ye have been
    Tell of the gentle rains with sun between
Speak of the dewy flowers ye did delight
    How modest in your march how kind ye are
    What memories of goodness must ye have
Ye will not blot from /man/heaven/ a single star
    See bright Bootes leans upon your grave
Rocked to /short/your/ /sleep/rest/ ye shall arise again
    Led by tomorrow’s sun with freshness for the plain.

Sept 1874 HDR



Season of silent morn and quiet noon
    Of cloudless skies, and mellow purple eves
    That bids the stacker build the flying sheaves
And hears the thatcher hum the harvest-tune
Loud rookeries clamour, doves do frequent croon
    /The/Gay/ Robin whistles from the yellow leaves
    The old earth rests awhile ere she conceives
And pleasant dews do fall her rest to boon
Thy sober days were framed for sober fun
    The maids /trip nutting/go tripping/ to the hazel lawn
In the grey dell doth rouse the loitering dawn
    The huntsman halloa and the echoing gun
And /in/from/ the barn where /loud the platters ring/they sit suppering/
    Their harvest-home, the jolly ploughmen sing.

HDR 8 October 1874


Noel’s First Birthday

Thro’ what a strange vicissitude of sense
    Our little darling has obtained to wear
    The garland of his first completed year,
To add unto his crown of innocence!
With glad anticipation, half pretence,
    His first articulate infant words we hear,
    And watch the tiny traveller persevere
From chair to chair, across his rooms immense.
Pure as his infant heart the snow may fall,
    To justify the name our Baby-King
Bears, & shall hear; but we, who with parade
    In miniature, do keep his festival,
Feel that no winter can put back the Spring,
    His sunny life within our souls has made.

HDR 14 Dec: 1881


 Dean Stanley

His Work

Led by a painter’s hand, a poet’s lyre
Came Canaan? close – we saw in Sychar’s plain
The thirsting Saviour – wept with her of Nain,
And knelt with Paul /upon the sands/among the rocks/ of Tyre
Again Gomorrah’s clouds were flushed with fire
Old Abram’s tents were black in Mamre’s plain
The prophets spake, the Judges ruled again,
And Aaron echoed to the temple choir.
Not figures wove in faded tapestries
But men of human frailty, God-like aims,
Breathed from the Hebrew lines his hands unrolled
Beneath our half-forgetful western skies
Did Sinai thunder, and the tongues of flame
Flashed, and men felt the God that moved of old.



Christmas with Him

To-day we kept His birth who came to save!
    Old men and maids and Babes that crowd in arms,
    Stepped gladly at the gay bells loud alarms
Up towards the Church. A well-remembered stave
Of some Christ-carol filled the fragrant nave,
    Thou didst not enter, and the music’s charms
    Turned all to tears, then back unto the farms
The sad folk moved and left thee in thy grave.
Nay left thee not, for thou wast still the guest
Of those who piled the logs or sat at meat,
    Thy presence though the earthy doors oerhead
Were shut and sealed came forth, thy gracious feet
Passed all the thresholds blessing them and blest,
And Xmas-day was holier for the Dead.

H.D.R. Xmas Dec 1882


Christmas without Him

I never knew the sorrowing that dwells
    Within an incommunicable sound,
    Until I caught from those five Churches round
The merry noise of well-contented bells
That bore old Bethlehem’s story to the Fells
    And/listening/sunny/ moon-lit mountains for thy surround
    Was too far deep and too far underground,
Thou couldst not hear those merry Christmas shells.
Yet I remembered thou had lived’st thy time
    Nor fallen on sleep this thine accustomed ear
 – Framed for that higher music men call Heaven –
Had need of no Repeated Annual Chime
    To bid thee think of Christ who year by year
    Found in thy gentle heart a cradle newly given.

HDR Xmas 1882


Alas for The Yews of Borrowdale

Broken by the gales of Dec 11th 1883

Ill could he spare the trees St Patrick knew
    When first for Christ to these rude bales he spoke
    And better for had fallen the Rydal oak
Or Time’s blest hollow monument the Yew
Which stands in sight of Wetherlam: Ah few
    The souls who then had felt the tempests stroke
    So many bonds about the heart had broke
Had I wept so many memories from view
For to this grove in storm by fragments hurled
    And Glaramara down the centuries seen
    Awe and mute prayer and love & mystery throng
And since our Wordsworth murmured out his song
The dark four pillared vault of evergreen
    Was temple for the music of the world.

The Patrick’s Dale in Patterdale Yew which went over in the same storm Dec 11 1883.


A Farewell to Thomas Fawcett? of Wray on his Leaving for South Africa April 24th 1884. He had ? as Church Warden for upwards of 30 years during his life in the Wray district

Ye leave the milk white house that tops the hill,
    Haply no more to hear the sea-like sound,
    The larches roar on Latha’s burial mound,
No more to watch the ? sleek kine at their will
Drink of cool Blelham’s sedgy cup, but still,
    Where’er brave hearts! in future years bound
    One memory in your /heart/breast/ will sure be found
Of those sweet English fields your hands did till
And if at all beneath the burning skies
Where ploughshares dazzle and the ground is brass
Ye sigh to hear the babbling brooks of Wray
Run through the daffodils, in breadths of grass
Christ’s love shall lead your souls a pleasant way
His fountains in your deserts shall arise.

HD Rawnsley



When the strong soul of Nature’s human mood
Bends to the will and takes the lover’s hand
Then out of roseate cliff and hoary strand
Springs habitable home from clouds that brood
The torrent leaps with benison, the wood
Climbs up with soft caresses, tall trees stand
With tutelary grace, from wonderland
Come fruit and flowers to bless the solitude.

But surely they with angels lived & loved
And knew ? ? of Heaven’s tranquility
Who planned this demi-Eden, set this lawn
High o’er the silver neon-silent sea
Their eyes had looked beyond our common dawn
And here on earth their Paradise they proved.

H.D.R. 10 Sept: 1888


To My Father

At Glenthorne

Show, where art thou, and I am here forlorn
    Here where the purple moorland in its pride
    Links with a pomp of woods toward the tide
? paradise, a vision born
Of sudden breath from some enchanter’s horn
    Too fain to last so thou art at my side
    And hand in hand by intricate paths we glide
Swift to the welcoming gateways of Glenthorne.

Oh! happy hanging gardens where the springs
    Not ever fail, deep peacefulness is thine
        About thy lawns love calls from earth and sea
With such a spiritual power as brings
   Between the blossoming aloes and the pine
        The dear dear dead once more to visit thee.

H.D.R. 10 Sept 1888


In Memoriam

Sophy Elmhurst

Go to the grave, and tell her we have met
    Bid her come forth, and smile once more once more
    But alas! the deep earth, & the fast-closed door
And the green grass with tears not dew drops wet.
Dear Soul whose laughing eyes were ever set
    To fill the dark with light, to make the store
    Of simple kindness for the rich and poor
A crown of joy, thou hast thy coronet.
And we who stand and sorrow without words
    Because are more of those who this life’s span
        /Made earth more sweet/Brightened the earth/ has passed beyond recall
We say she once was ours – she is the Lord’s
    She whom the poet sang of – Lilian –
        Sings now in Heaven & smiles upon us all.

HDR Oct 1889



In Memory of Prof. Lushington

   Or the Bute Hall 26 March 1885

God don ? immortals even as he
    Who high uplifted o’er the foolish crowd
    Most calm most practical & with meek head bowed
Waits for no silence in the boisterous sea
Of mirth inopportune and ill tuned glee
    But breathes out all his gentle thought aloud
    And from behind his mind’s mysterious cloud
Waits us return but scatters sunlight free.

Pleads with men thy ? was divine
    When like the doves that circling cannot rest
    Thy words went fluttering forth, for then such grace
Shone through thy cloud of hair with heavenly shine
That careless noise and clamour was impressed
They heard no sound – they saw an angel’s face.