Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Morwenna Statio

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


Morwenna Statio

By Robert Stephen Hawker (1803–1875)

  • The Stow, or the place, of St. Morwenna; hence, by abbreviation, Morwenstow.

  • MY Saxon shrine! the only ground

    Wherein this weary heart hath rest;

    What years the birds of God have found

    Along thy walls their sacred nest:

    The storm, the blast, the tempest shock,

    Have beat upon those walls in vain;

    She stands,—a daughter of the rock,—

    The changeless God’s eternal fane.

    Firm was their faith,—the ancient bands,

    The wise of heart in wood and stone,

    Who reared with stern and trusting hands

    These dark gray towers of days unknown:

    They filled these aisles with many a thought,

    They bade each nook some truth reveal;

    The pillared arch its legend brought,

    A doctrine came with roof and wall.

    Huge, mighty, massive, hard, and strong,

    Were the choice stones they lifted then:

    The vision of their hope was long,

    They knew their God, those faithful men.

    They pitched no tent for change or death,

    No home to last man’s shadowy day;

    There! there! the everlasting breath

    Would breathe whole centuries away.

    See, now, along that pillared aisle

    The graven arches, firm and fair:

    They bend their shoulders to the toil,

    And lift the hollow roof in air.

    A sign! beneath the ship we stand,

    The inverted vessel’s arching side;

    Forsaken—when the fisher-band

    Went forth to sweep a mightier tide.

    Pace we the ground! our footsteps tread

    A cross,—the builder’s holiest form;

    That awful couch where once was shed

    The blood, with man’s forgiveness warm.

    And here, just where his mighty breast

    Throbbed the last agony away,

    They bade the voice of worship rest,

    And white-robed Levites pause and pray.

    Mark! the rich rose of Sharon’s bowers

    Curves in the paten’s mystic mould;

    The lily, lady of the flowers,

    Her shape must yonder chalice hold.

    Types of the mother and the son,

    The twain in this dim chancel stand;

    The badge of Norman banners one,

    And one a crest of English land.

    How all things glow with life and thought

    Where’er our faithful fathers trod!

    The very ground with speech is fraught,

    The air is eloquent of God.

    In vain would doubt or mockery hide

    The buried echoes of the past;

    A voice of strength, a voice of pride,

    Here dwells amid the storm and blast.

    Still points the tower, and pleads the bell;

    The solemn arches breathe in stone;

    Window and wall have lips to tell

    The mighty faith of days unknown.

    Yea, flood and breeze and battle-shock

    Shall beat upon this church in vain;

    She stands,—a daughter of the rock,—

    The changeless God’s eternal fane.