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Poem by Bessie Rayner Parkes
CARISBROOKE Church on the fifth of November Flung out the silver hid deep in her chimes; This was her burden, “Be pleased to remember The ill which they did in papistical times!” Over the woods and the fields rich with tillage, That fairest of islands embellishing still, People who walked in the streets of the village Might hear the sweet echoes chime back from the hill. I think, my old church, you are somewhat ungracious, And do not remember from whence you descended; Who planned you so skilfully, framed you so spacious, And laid your stone walls with zeal pious and splendid! What was the fount of that bountiful spirit Which fashioned each porch to the innermost throne? Who pierced the fair windows whose light we inherit, And carved the quaint heads of your corbels of stone? Do you forget how the people rejoicéd When first you stood finished, the crown of the vale? What hymns of thanksgiving rose myriad-voicéd, What rich scent of incense was borne on the gale? Or have you forgotten how red were the roses Which wreathed the new altar now ancient and gray? Ah! many a witness around you reposes, Whose dead lips, unsealed, would remember that day! Pacing the churchyard by moonlight in summer, Watching the rainbow when green leaves turn sere, I think to the heart of a thoughtful new-comer, Each trace of the old Faith should surely be dear. All she did here was both noble and tender;— God save her living core,—peace to her dust; Inspired by her beauty, amazed by her splendor, The poet at least can afford to be just. And I cannot endure to hear you assuring, At the top of your voice, (though a sweet one, ’t is true!) The mother who reared you with love so enduring, That she and her children are nothing to you.
Bessie Rayner Parkes
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