E. W. B.
Archbishop of Canterbury: sometime the First Bishop
of Truro. October 1896
The Church's outpost on a neck of land
By ebb of faith the foremost left the last
Dull, starved of hope, we watched the driven sand
Blown through the hour-glass, covering our past,
Counting no hours to our relief—no hail
Across the hills, and on the sea no sail!
Sick of monotonous days we lost account,
In fitful dreams remembering days of old
And nights—th' erect Archangel on the Mount
With sword that drank the dawn; the Vase of Gold
The moving Grail athwart the starry fields
Where all the heavenly spearmen clashed their
In dereliction by the deafening shore
We sought no more aloft, but sunk our eyes,
Probing the sea for food, the earth for ore.
Ah, yet had one good soldier of the skies
Burst through the wrack reporting news of them,
How had we run and kissed his garment's hem!
Nay, but he came! Nay, but he stood and cried,
Panting with joy and the fierce fervent race,
'Arm, arm! for Christ returns!'—and all our pride,
Our ancient pride, answered that eager face:
'Repair His battlements!—Your Christ is near!'
And, half in dream, we raised the soldiers' cheer.
Far, as we flung that challenge, fled the ghosts—
Back, as we built, the obscene foe withdrew—
High to the song of hammers sang the hosts
Of Heaven—and lo! the daystar, and a new
Dawn with its chalice and its wind as wine;
And youth was hope, and life once more divine!
Day, and hot noon, and now the evening glow,
And 'neath our scaffolding the city spread
Twilit, with rain-wash'd roofs, and—hark!—below,
One late bell tolling. 'Dead? Our Captain dead?'
Nay, here with us he fronts the westering sun
With shaded eyes and counts the wide fields won.
Aloft with us! And while another stone
Swings to its socket, haste with trowel and hod!
Win the old smile a moment ere, alone,
Soars the great soul to bear report to God.
Night falls; but thou, dear Captain, from thy star
Look down, behold how bravely goes the war!
A. B. D.
Canon Residentiary and Precentor of Truro
Many had builded, and, the building done,
Through our adornèd gates with din
Came Prince and Priest, with pipe and clarion
Leading the right God in.
Yet, had the perfect temple quickened then
And whispered us between our song,
'Give God the praise. To whom of living men
Shall next our thanks belong?'
Then had the few, the very few, that wist
His Atlantean labour, swerved
Their eyes to seek, and in the triumph missed,
The man that most deserved.
He only of us was incorporate
In all that fabric; stone by stone
Had built his life in her, had made his fate
And her perfection one;
Given all he had; and now—when all was given—
Far spent, within a private shade,
Heard the loud organ pealing praise to Heaven,
And learned why man is made.—
To break his strength, yet always to be brave;
To preach, and act, the Crucified ...
Sweep by, O Prince and Prelate, up the nave,
And fill it with your pride!
Better than ye what made th' old temples great,
Because he loved, he understood;
Indignant that his darling, less in state,
Should lack a martyr's blood.
She hath it now. O mason, strip away
Her scaffolding, the flower disclose!
Lay by the tools with his o'er-wearied clay—
But She shall bloom unto its Judgment Day,
His ever-living Rose!
C. W. S.
The Fourth Bishop of Truro
Prince of courtesy defeated,
Heir of hope untimely cheated,
Throned awhile he sat, and, seated,
Saw his Cornish round him gather;
'Teach us how to live, good Father!'
How to die he taught us rather:
Heard the startling trumpet sound him,
Smiled upon the feast around him,
Rose, and wrapp'd his coat, and bound him
When beyond the awful surges,
Bathed in dawn on Syrian verges,
God! thy star, thy Cross emerges.
And so sing we all to it—
Crux, in coelo lux superna,
Sis in carnis hac taberna
Mihi pedibus lucerna:
Quo vexillum dux cohortis
Sistet, super flumen Mortis,
Te, flammantibus in portis!
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"Three Men Of Truro" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 19 Jul 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/35027/three-men-of-truro>.