Probably more than one Bristolian was reminded at the week end of the late Canon Rawnsley’s “Book of Bristol Sonnets,” and by perusing it once again revived memories of the poet’s impressions of local objects of interest and important happenings of forty years or so ago. When in Bristol the curate of the Clifton College Mission at St. Agnes not only visited numerous historic places and beauty spots in and around the city, but he also was present at a number of events of public interest, and many of the are dealt with in his verses. After he went North Canon Rawnsley kept a friendly eye on Bristol affairs, and when the agitation against the quarrying on the face of the Avon Gorge was active in 1904 he sought to strengthen it by writing to the Press some lines which observant readers have probably added to his collection of sonnets. The Canon, who was an enthusiastic admirer of Nature, expressed his strong views, and gave his lines the title, “The Cry of the Avon Banks.”
Shall it be said that in these latter days—
When in the stress of labour, labour’s need
Was rest, and poor men’s eyes were all agreed
At nobler worth fair nature to appraise—
That our great merchant princes failed to raise
A voice of protest for this cruel deed;
And silent bade the rocks of Avon bleed—
Heart-broken that no hand the mischief stays!
Far better had St. Brandon never brought
His sister Brigha, to proclaim the love
Of God, for all the beauty He had made,
Than at the beck of mammon-blinded trade
Let Avon through its naked ruin move,
And bitter shame on Bristol’s name be wrought.
(Western Daily Press, 1920, 2 June, p. 5.)