Sunday, May 21, 2017

OLD ST. DAVID'S, a poem

St. David's Episcopal Church, Radnor, PA ca. 1907

"What an image of peace and rest."—Longfellow

IN Radnor Valley, from the world apart,
     The little Church stands peaceful as of old,
     Guarding her memories yet half untold,
Deep in the silent places of her heart.

Life comes, and passes by her, as it wills;
     But musing on loved things evanishèd,
     She keeps the generations of the dead,—
Herself unchanged amid her beauteous hills:

Unchanged, though full of change her days have been,
     Since builded here, ere Washington was born,
     She seemed the home of exiled hearts forlorn—
The open portal to hope's fair demesne.

Close as the ivy that adorns her walls,
     So grateful thoughts have twined themselves and clung
     About this lowly sanctuary, sprung
From that necessity which ever calls

The soul of man to seek for something higher—
     Anhungered for a more celestial bread
     Than that wherewith his earthly life is fed—
And faith was kindled here, and patriot fire!

Yea; from this sacred pile, in days gone by,
     Brave men, to duty nobly dedicate,
     Went forth to strive against despotic fate—
Content for liberty to live—or die.

Some came not back; but some returned, victorious,—
     Needing nor badge nor ribbon on the breast,—
     To find here by the little Church their rest:
Heroes and martyrs lowly—yet how glorious! . . .

Healed of all hurt, emparadised afar
     Though they abide, yet to our reverent sight,
     About their graves there lingers still a light
Which is not as the light of moon or star;

And very peaceful after stormy days,
     And sturdy as the antique oaks remain,
     Which sentinelled the burial of Wayne,—
Illustrious beyond the need of praise,—

Old Radnor Church bestows her benison,
     Calling to us who from the past yet borrow,
     To love the right and, living for the morrow,
Fulfil the hopes of heroes that are gone.

So, through whate'er of change the future brings,
     Shall she our memories and faiths defend,—
     A temple of the highest to the end,
Immortal through the love of deathless things!
Written by request of the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America and read at Old St. David's, May 21, 1904.

"Old St. David's" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (July 1904), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

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