The Plaint of Morwenstow by Henry Sewell Stokes

That he was brave the white-haired cragsmen tell,
Round all the coast from Hartland to Pentire;
And shipwreck’d mariners remember well
How grand he look’d when flashed the beacon-fire.

As down the cliff he rush’d against the gale,
Well might he seem the Angel of the Storm;
While his deep voice the stranded bark would hail,
His strong arm stretch to save some gasping form.

When falls Tintagel’s tower, it’s solemn chime
In Hawker’s rhythm will echo on the blast,
And still repeat, ‘Come to thy God in time!’
And say to each, ‘Come to thy God at last!’

He heard and went: but where his dust should sleep,
Tears on a vacant sepulchre are shed;
And still the cry comes from Morwenna’s steep,
Complaining that they bring not home the dead.

The seabirds miss him on the headland’s verge,
And wailing seek their guardian ‘mong these graves;
And to the cavern’d shore’s Aeolian dirge
Succeeds the ‘De Profundis’ of the waves.

Rest where he may, this place is hallowed ground:
Genius, Love, Duty, tried by crucial pain,
Here in one noble human mould were found,
The secrets of his soul with God remain.

From The Life and Letters of R. S. Hawker edited by C. E Byles. This poem also appears in The Gate of Heaven, The Plaint of Morwenstow, and other verses by Henry Sewell Stokes, Liddell & Son, Bodmin, (1876).

- Click here to read a biography of Henry Sewell Stokes…