A Selection of Camborne Poetry

Camborne Poetry

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Ernest Leopold Trevenen Harris Bickford.

Born Camborne, 27 May 1859.

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I knocked at the door of the World,
But the World then had nought to bestow;
Not e'en though Thought's flag flew unfurled,
For I was unknown then, you know.

And many long years sped away,
And many a trial was borne;
I softened life's woes with the lay,
And waited the sunnier morn!

And Faith sometimes drooped in its bloom,
And Hope often sank as the sun
Sinks westward to redden the gloom
That gathers when daylight is done.

And oft was the soul sore and sad,
And oft was the brain overweighed;
How could I, so lonely, be glad?
How could I feel aught but dismayed?

The hills were so frowning in front,
The ruts were so rugged behind;
Beside me was sorrow to daunt—
And little mine own save the mind.

Save the mind, and for that I have fought—
Save the mind, and with that I have sung;
I have toiled, I have wept, I have wrought,
And my heart by much sorrow's been wrung.

But over the waste and the wear
Of the worry that wrestles with life,
Over the chill and the care
The sadness, the dreariness rife.

Innately I've felt that to crown
The desert I've journeyed amid
A sun at the last would gleam down,
Despite the dense shadows that hid.

And thus, with resolve at my heart,
I've knocked at the door of the World
Again and again—and I start
At the greeting to Thought's flag unfurled!

No longer so desolate now,
Though strong as becometh a man;
I glance at the lines on my brow
Like a field, newly-furrowed, to scan.

And glancing, respond to the cheer
That groweth around me to-day;
Reward for the struggle severe—
Reward for the length of the way.

And my friends! be ye near, be ye far—
Friends made in the thick of the fight,
May your hopes be like Bethlehem's star
That guided the pilgrims at night!

And lead ye to pastures of peace,
Till, safe in the Harbour of Joy,
Your struggling and striving shall cease,
And nought shall Love's blessing destroy.

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See the cliffs, in craggy splendour,
Tower magnificently high;
Kissed by breezes, cool and tender,
Echoing sea-waves' shriek or sigh.

Rich in heather, steep, unbending,
Deep descending, broad of brim!
Man athwart them wand'ring, wending,
Feels the heart's-depths stirred in him.

Is he weary? yield they vigour;
Is he languid? they will cheer;
Is he doomed to senseless rigour?
They will give him comfort dear.

They will tell him how through ages
They have borne the brunt of storm;
And that though old Ocean rages,
They present a stalwart form.

They present a moveless barrier,
So impregnable, supreme,
That the wind, destruction's carrier,
Passes o'er them like a dream!

William Cock.

Of Tuckingmill, born 1866, died 1939.

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When you hushed the dove's loud cooing with a kiss,
And confessed it bred a feeling bord'ring bliss;
How the love-lit moments sped,
How the years long since have fled,
Since you hushed the dove's loud cooing with a kiss.

All the birds sand songs of madness, gladness then,
And the wild flowers' flaming lit the sacred glen;
Yet the gods in silence look'd
On a pair whom fate had book'd,
Not for long to see the wild flowers gild the glen.

I could die upon the sighing winds to-night,
Mock the phantoms that would fain a mortal fright;
Hear a sainted maiden call
To a dark enthralléd soul,
Lonely sighing in the shivering winds of night.

All the flowers have ceased their flaming in the glen,
Not a petal blooms so sweetly now as then;
And the birds have flown on wing,
Or to other lovers sing,
And a hollow echo fills the haunted glen.

I would yield the mocking years that since have fled,
Give a decade for a moment of the dead;
Only give me back a bower,
And a rare celestial flower;
Yes! would fling the world away as with the dead.

All the stars have since seemed shrouded in the sky.
All the glories of the night in fragments lie;
And the larger loving light,
That imparadised the night,
Beams no longer in the cold and cheerless sky.

I shall see thee when the shadows pass away,
When my soul shall leave this now imperious clay;
On that shore unswept by storm,
I shall clasp again thy form,
When I rise from out this dark mysterious clay.

I will set my sails to reach the silent sea,
Where the ever-burning stars shall circle me;
Till I hear thy voice afar,
Echoing o'er the mystic bar,
Gently calling, sweetly calling, unto me.

John Harris.

Born Bolenowe, 1820, died 7th April 1884. Buried at Treslothan.

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WHERE not a sound is heard
But the white waves, O bird,
And slippery rocks fling back the vanquish'd sea,
Thou soarest in thy pride,
Not heeding storm or tide;
In Freedom's temple nothing is more free.

'T is pleasant by this stone,
Sea-wash'd and weed-o'ergrown,
With Solitude and Silence at my side,
To list the solemn roar
Of ocean on the shore,
And up the beetling cliff to see thee glide.

Though harsh thy earnest cry,
On crag, or shooting high
Above the tumult of this dusty sphere,
Thou tellest of the steep
Where Peace and Quiet sleep,
And noisy man but rarely visits here.

For this I love thee, bird,
And feel my pulses stirr'd
To see thee grandly on the high air ride,
Or float along the land,
Or drop upon the sand,
Or perch within the gully's frowning side.

Thou bringest the sweet thought
Of some straw-cover'd cot,
On the lone moor beside the bubbling well,
Where cluster wife and child,
And bees hum o'er the wild:
In this seclusion it were joy to dwell.

Will such a quiet bower
Be ever more my dower
In this rough region of perpetual strife?
I like a bird from home
Forward and backward roam;
But there is rest beneath the Tree of Life.

In this dark world of din,
Of selfishness and sin,
Help me, dear Saviour, on Thy love to rest;
That, having cross'd life's sea,
My shatter'd bark may be
Moor'd safely in the haven of the blest.

The Muse at this sweet hour
Hies with me to my bower
Among the heather of my native hill;
The rude rock-hedges here
And mossy turf, how dear!
What gushing song! how fresh the moors and still!

No spot of earth like thee,
So full of heaven to me,
O hill of rock, piled to the passing cloud!
Good spirits in their flight
Upon thy crags alight,
And leave a glory where they brightly bow'd.

I well remember now,
In boy-days on thy brow,
When first my lyre among thy larks I found,
Stealing from mother's side
Out on the common wide,
Strange Druid footfalls seem'd to echo round.

Dark Cornish chough, for thee
My shred of minstrelsy
I carol at this meditative hour,
Linking thee with my reed,
Grey moor and grassy mead,
Dear carn and cottage, heathy bank and bower.

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MAN'S noblest works will fall,
The strongest arches crack,
And Earth's proud cities all
Be like the old mine stack.

At February's end,
When clouds are often black,
In storm and pelting hail
It fell, the old mine stack.

For long, long months it shook,
As if upon the rack,
And then it toppled o'er
At night, the old mine stack.

Above the misty hill
Once rose its top. Alack!
Old Ruin's hand hath pull'd
It down, the old mine stack.

We watch'd it day by day,
Smote with the storm-king black,
Till with a solemn roar
Down dash'd the old mine stack.

The highest peaks will fall,
Earth's mighty zones will crack,
And Nature's bulwarks all
Be like the old mine stack.

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MUSING by a mossy fountain,
In the blossom month of May,
Saw I coming down a mountain
An old man whose locks were grey;
And the flowery valleys echoed,
As he sang his earnest lay.

'Prayer is heard, the chain is riven,
Shout it over land and sea;
Slavery from earth is driven,
And the manacled are free;
Brotherhood in all the nations;
What a glorious Jubilee!

'God has answered, fall before Him,
Laud His majesty and might;
On thy knees, O earth, adore Him:
Now the black is as the white;
Hallelujah! hallelujah!
Every bondsman free as light.

'Whip and scourge, and fetter broken,
Far away in darkness hurled;
This a grand and glorious token,
When millennium fills the world.
Hallelujah! O'er the nations
Freedom's snowy flag unfurled.

'God has answered! Glory, glory!
O'er the green earth let it speed;
Sun and stars take up the story,
Nevermore a slave shall bleed;
Shout deliverance for the freeman,
Send him succour in his need.

Glory be to God the Giver.
Slavery now shall brand no more;
From the fountain to the river
Freedom breathes on every shore.
Hellelujah! Hallelujah!
Brotherhood the wide world o'er.'

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CORNUBIA, joy to thee,
From bluest sea to sea,
From famed Land's End to wild Tintagel's wall!
Christ's mighty seers are come,
They throng our island home,
With words of peace and blessedness for all.

From the great city's roar,
And many a river's shore,
And lake-girt lawn, they hasten to the West;
And in my Camborne dear
Christ's ministers appear,
Peace-shod, truth-taught, an army of the blest.

No chieftain's rugged band
With battle-bow and brand,
Or Druid stern, press on us in their ire;
Sheathed now the warrior's blade,
And music fill the glade
Like gushing song-strains from the upper choir.

Shout, Cornwall, shout aloud,
Until the heavens are bow'd,
In strong thanksgiving lift thy grateful hymn;
On thee has dawn'd a day
Which never will grow grey,
Till the sun darkens and the stars are dim.

Pass'd is thy darksome night,
All things are new and bright;
Mount Zion's glory hangs on every down,
Streams through the copper vale,
Lights up the tin-strewn dale,
The reedy hamlet and the sea-wash'd town.

They meet, this noble band,
On Cornwall's mineral-land,
Their battle-blade the Spirit's two-edged sword;
Their counsels, how Divine
Their mission, how benign!
Their Master, Jesus, the redeeming Lord.

O Thou, enthroned in light,
Hear prayer, O God of might,
And let thine Israel now be richly blest;
And may it sweetly run,
Till every mother's son
Rejoice in Jesus as the sinner's rest.

And, passing from our gaze
Along their several ways,
O may they leave a radiancy behind,
Still brightening more and more,
From wondering shore to shore,
In its grand issues blessing all mankind.

Break out, ye rocks and rills;
Break out, ye mine-crown'd hills;
Sing loud, ye pastures white with waving grain;
And ye, who till the soil,
Or in the tin-pits toil,
Break out, break out in one rejoicing strain.

Sing glory to the Lamb,
The merciful I AM,
Who calls again His weary exiles home.
The looming shadows flee,
The morn breaks fair and free;
'T is light! 't is light! salvation's day is come.

Descend, O mighty Power,
Descend at this glad hour,
Brood o'er each spirit with Thy healing wings;
Let every soul rejoice
In Jesus as its choice,
And shout high praises to the King of kings.

H D Lowry.

Born Truro, 1869, lived most of his life at Camborne.

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All the town is sleeping
Underneath the hill;
Only I am keeping
Restless vigil still.

Through the day I've waited,
Still I watch at night:
Who can tell the fated
Hour of love-delight?

All the world is sleeping,
Fain would I sleep too;
But my heart wakes, keeping
Vigil here for you.

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'Tis good to watch the yellow lights
Come out across the bay;
And well the music of your voice
Closes a perfect day.

Only … . the sunset seemed a rose
Full-blown, whose leaves were falling;
And, while I listen to your voice,
I hear the old sea calling.

Joseph Thomas.

Born Clahar-Garden, Mullion, died 1894.

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Come all ye jolly tinners, who
To Camborne Town belong,
Sit down and touch your pipe, my dears,
And listen to my song;
Hundards of fitty-looking maids
In Camborne you may see,
But little Kitty Cornish is
The crop of the bunch to me.

I saw her as I came from Bal,
Her gook, I caan't tell how,
Fell back upon her nuddick, and
The sun shone on her brow;
Her cruddly hair was plethoned up
So beautiful to see,
And little Kitty Cornish is
The crop of the bunch to me.

Her smile was bright as May, her cheeks
Had caught the rose's hue,
Her eyes were blue as guckoo flowers,
And sparkled like the dew.
Her lips were red as haggalans,
Full ripe upon the tree;
And little Kitty Cornish is
The crop of the bunch to me.

I called—she had her towser on,
A mooling of her bread;
And as she put the dough to plum,
This here is what I said:
'I'd like some of that fuggan, dear,
If I may stay to tea.'
And little Kitty Cornish is
The crop of the bunch to me.

I've heard the lark sing in the sky,
The grey bird in the brake,
I've heard the choir at 'Wesley,'
(That's grand, and no mistake);
But sweeter far her whisper, when
She promised for to be
My own dear Kitty Cornish, and
The crop of the bunch to me.

'Tis sweet to feel the sunshine, as
You come from underground;
'Tis sweet to breathe the fresh, fresh air,
And see the flowers around;
But sweeter than the sunlight,
Or honey from the bee,
Is my own dear Kitty Cornish—
The crop of the bunch to me.

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