Lines on Blackheath
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An unidentified poet who was obviously very fond of Blackheath wrote and published this amazing piece of work we think around the early 1900’s. All we have is his initials J.R. The poem was published in a small paper booklet by the Guidlford printer Frank Lasham. He was a bookseller and printer between 1878 and 1922 and was based at 61 High Street Guildford.
LINES ON BLACKHEATH, SURREY
Beloved Blackheath! Beneath thy azure dome of summer sky, I musing lie, or roam o”er thy wild waste, or through thy pleasant glades, in blaze of sun, or where the daylight fades. Loosed from all carking care, unfettered, free, as swiftly mounting bird or drowsing bee, thou hast a charm, an everlasting charm for me.
Here restful peace reigns in thy sylvan bowers, no blatant horn disturbs the fleeting hours, no harsh discordant sound, no cry, no note, save from the yond heaven-bound skylark’s warbling throat, or cuckoo’s call from beechen throne above, or plaintive cooing of nestling dove.
I tread thy narrow silver sandy ways, now dark in shade, now bright in speckled rays, winding beneath the fir trees chequered shade, or where through fern and grass thy tracks are laid, each lengthening rut outlined to charm the sight, with dainty lace of lady’s bedstraw white, bejeweled bright the creeping emerald moss, with daisies star and hawk bits golden boss, embroidered gay each dip and woodland dell, with chrome of ragwort, pink of foxglove bell.
The wild rose, and the bramble blossom vie, to match Aurora’s fair but transient dye, or else the tint that warms the maiden’s cheek, as in her ruptured ear her lover speaks, here nodding bluebells wild their perfume fling, and fairies sporting in the primrose ring proclaim to all around the glories of the spring.
I careless stroll beneath thy lofty pines, where glinting sunbeams diamond-pattern shines to decorate thy springy carpet dun, spread on thy floor, and welcome holds to none of natures fairest children, scorning aid, to break the somber aspect of the trembling shade.
Or should I shun thy aisles to wander near, the Tillingbourne or placid Tangley Mere. Or may contentment dwell in nearer fields, for every path its store of pleasure yields. Then to the stream that runs by Lockner Holt, guide I should find in any rustic dolt. A brook that flows beneath the ripening grain, crystals as watered Enna’s flowery plain, whence Pluto stole Prosperpina as Hades queen to reign.
There on the rustic bridge – a plank of wood- I’ll patient stand, as lovers oft have stood, and watch the speckled troutlets as they play, or bright kingfisher waiting for his prey.
It needs no melancholy Jacques to find, sermons and books, and songs of joyous kind that rise from eddying whirls, or peppbles gay that shone and sparkle as in form, to deck, undine’s mosaic palace, or some dainty Naiad’s neck. Or if with colours crude I try to paint, the varying moods, now strong, now sweet
There by the margins of the merry stream. The meadow sweet and purple loose strife gleam. German speedwell opens its eyes of blue, and Myosotis gaze of passions true. Here, with its darting spear-light leaves, I see heraldic favour! Saffron fleur-de-lis, I see, heraldic favour! Saffron Fleur-de-lis All Flora’s treasures rare before my ravished sight
Now shall I pace thy stretch of open moor, and fondly view thy picture landscape Oer. Mounting with the Laverock seem to spy the varied maps that neath my vision lie. Far as the eye can reach the softening line, proclaims the spreading oak or darking pine, of habitation bare the rolling downs. Save where the little church, S.Martha crowns, on feathery wastes the heather purple show, or sharply marked Genista’s golden glow, by patches broken of a subtler sheen.
The bracken and the whortleberry green as in the quiet summer a sleeping oceans seen.
Here on the topmost ridge of barren sand, the scattered dwellings of the hamlet stands.
The bracken and the whortleberry green, as in the quite summer, a sleeping ocean’s seen.
And peeping through elms the eye can trace the manor house with quaint half-timbered face. While fenced with stone, as if the grade to mark. The Lordly Mansion and its stately park. There by the roadside as the road declines, beneath outspreading trees the traveler finds. The unpretentious village chapel stands, erected and adorned by generous hands, whose broad low roof and deep embarrassed doors recall the shrines on far off classic shores, The
Poor neglected well, prized boon of yore that with no stinted draught bestowed its store in hoydens’ pitcher resting on the sill, while the rough sturdy youth the handle plied the will.
There with bare walls the convent seems to stand. For Rome’s encampment on a ransomed land, as though her arms would still maintain the fight of freedoms battle against oppressions might’ But as I muse, what ghosts their revels keep!
Phantoms that should in apt oblivion sleep, for memory rushing down the aisles of time what scenes of terror, deeds of love sublime unroll before my mental vision then, the martyrs crowned! The cruel acts of men! Mercy’s pure works! The lust of greed and hate! The sister’s lowly mien! The prelate state! Beams from an early faith – lurid dogmas new. A strange kaleidoscope of False and True, enough, enough, this suits but ill the lay of idle singer on an idle day. So why allow one thought of this to sour.
The perfect pleasure of the perfect hour. I snatch from toil and toils’ enslaving power.
No burning incense flung from censer rare, fills with devotion’s praise the perfumed air. More than the odor from wild woodbine, or snowy hawthorn bush or eglantine. No sweeter hymns or anthems e’er ascend, than those the Mavis and the robin lend, here may be read in every opening flower, the tale of the creators wondrous power, each leafy branch, each curling frond and spray, confess the innate marvel day by day. More truthful stories to the student told, than musty tome or monkfish missal old, I’ve but to look around, beyond, above, to feel within my heart that God is love. And joyous cry ‘o earth! Is heaven more fair?’ Our fathers grace and beauty and his works are everywhere.
The viewless zephyrs revel o’er the space, and sport and gamble in their aerial race. While lines of dappled cloudlets fleck their zone, and claim the kingdom of the sky their own. Upon the highest heathery knoll I rest, eastward I gaze, or north, or south, or west, each opening view, like Daphne’s clothing tossed. Hill after hill, ridge after ridge are lost. Or as by some titanic gnome of yore, in giant searching for long buried store, or by rude ocean’s force, or glacial torrent, tore.
Far as the eye can reach through pearly haze of melting sky, I throw my steadfast gaze, while as Sol rides majestically proud, darting his ray’s form out of riven cloud. See Vachery’s water sending back in blaze, to Pitch Hill’s larches green, and Cranleigh’s haze, now Hambledons bold front the light has caught. And Munsteads massive tower the tint has sought. Gilding with ruddy glare the pine trees tall that crown the stalwart brow of Highdown ball. And though the rays their brightness scarce retain, amid the somber gorse on Blackdown plain, yet with renewed life reflecting still, the luscious purple of the Gibbet hill. hid among bosky clumps now soon appear, the red-roofed dwellings of fair Haslemere. Then glows with mellow light the Milford Heath, and the tall spire of Godalming beneath. Round Witleys firs the dusky shadows play, whose meeting branches scarce admit a ray, Painting with emerald green the grassy sward. Of Charterhouse, as shouldering fires, on Crooks bury Hill that screens the Abbey old and Waverley mill. Lighting the track that on the Hogs back ramps, from Farnham and from Aldershot armed camps. Guildford’s fair town, too long in mist concealed, in all the glorious sunshine stands revealed. On Martha falling soft, as loving hand smoothing the long forgotten graves that stand. As time’s evanescent foot prints on life’s ever shifting sand.
From fleeting shadows, lingering soft and slow, broad Newland’s beeches catch the mellow glow. As baffled clouds resign the captured sway, he floods the landscape with its conquering ray. Then spreading out on Evershed’s bold roughs, and the scarred slopes of Ranmore’s chalky bluffs. By Evelyn’s home and Wootten’s cloisters grey, led through the copse of Abinger astray. Yet flashing forth from Denbies peaceful bower, cross lonesome darkling dell to Leith’s tall tower. From whose embattled roof the traveler spies, the vast expanding world of Surrey lies.
All nature wakes beneath his fruitful reign, in one broad, verdant, undulating plain. While hill-to-hill melodious echo cries, and from the joyous world glad songs of praise arise.
Ah! How my dull cold being should aspire, if faintly warmed by this Promethean fire. When thy sweet face all sparkles ‘neath the spell, of branching heather and Lings rosy bell. Thy smiling blushes, and they blushing smiles, my every pain, my every care beguiles. Oh! How my heart, responsive to thy call, beats with delight, harmonious as the fall. Of Sabbath bells upon the stilly air, on thy broad heath so wild, so free, so fair. There where my dreams no rude awakening dreads. But sylvan peace its soothing unction spreads. Lord, may my feet no rougher pathway press, nor thorny road, throughout life’s storm and stress, than thy soft turf-enameled flowers beneath. That decks and brightens all thy ways – beloved Blackheath.