A Poem to St Mark’s

Mrs. Southey: Caroline Anne Bowles was born in 1786 at Lymington, daughter of navy Captain Charles Bowles and Anne Burrard. She married Robert Southey as his second wife, at St. John’s Church Boldre in 1839 and died at Buckland Cottage in 1854. Robert Southey (1774 – 1843) was Poet Laureate from 1818 – 1843.

This poem was written by Mrs. Caroline Anne Southey, and was composed to commemorate the laying of the foundation stone of the first church at Pennington in 1838.

On the common’s rugged side,
Where the briar and golden furze
Have budded, blossomed and died,
For centuries of years;
Here, where the wild colt strayed
Unbroken as the sod,
The foundation stone is laid
Of a chapel to our God.

Ere the holy walls are raised,
Ere the pious work we speed,
Let that holy name be praised,
which inspires each worthy deed;
May his blessings to the word
Taught in this church be given,
May the weary taste of rest,
The sinner hear of heaven.

Within this sacred fane
In years to come shall tread,
The footsteps of the bridal train,
The mourners of the dead;
Besides its altar kneel
Hearts, whose unuttered groan,
Which sins of sufferings steal,
Is heard by God alone.

Hither shall grief and fear
For consolation fly,
When the lost one wrings a tear,
And the absent claims a sigh;
Blest tho’ these holy aisles.
Far dearer they shall be
To the sailor when he dreams,
‘There my mother prays for me.’

Every Sabbath morn shall come,
All who keep that day of rest,
To look upon the graves
Of those they lov’d the best.
Ye happy ones! Who ne’er
Watched o’er a dying bed,
Ye cannot know the tye
That binds them to their dead.

The tears by mourners wept
The place will consecrate;
The porch to them will seem
Holy as heaven’s own gate.
Here, will no worldly cares
With God their thoughts divide,
Their treasures are laid up,
In the churchyard by its side.

St. Mark! thine ancient name
This little church will bear,
May the gospel thou hast writ
Imprint salvation here;
Here may our Lord and thine
His gracious word fulfil,
To be where two or three are met
To hear and do Thy will.