This was supposed to be a leisurely stroll in verse east along the seafront but I’m struggling to leave the Den as I keep finding new poems.
I am indebted to Stuart Drabble to this one. Stuart is a local historian and aficionado of all things George Templer. He has compiled from various arcane sources a collection of poetry by George Templer. The one I have chosen here links to my previous post and reflects another aspect of Teignmouth life in the early 19th century – cricket.
Ivy Benson and her band may have played a fancy-dress cricket match on the Den in 1970 but I wonder if they knew that the diarist Fanny Burney recorded a ‘grand cricket match on the Den’ almost two hundred years earlier.
In 1814 an invasion of Etonians brought regular cricket matches to the Den and that led to the formation by George Templer, nine years later, of the Teignbridge Cricket Club.
There are a number of cricketing poems by George Templer. This one was written for the “Jubilee” – the twentieth anniversary of the club in 1843. It is quite long and if you feel like giving up at least go to the link through at the end to the Teignbridge Cricket Club page where there are some wonderful contemporary descriptions!
Teignbridge Cricket Club Jubilee
Along the chequered path of life
Ten years have passed away
Since last within this humble roof
We held our festal day.
‘Twere good to pause and learn the love
These fleeting years have taught
And, fondly smiling, mark the change
Those fitful hours have brought.
England, the star that ruled thee then
Has fallen from his sphere,
And thou hast seen to guide thy way
A fairer star appear.
The light that erst from childhood’s brow
Shone gaily o’er the scene,
Now brighter beams from beauty’s eye
Her waving locks between.
And she whose charm of beauty rose
Beneath a mother’s sway
Hath in its noon found dearer ties
To cherish and obey.
Haply, ‘tis hers to mark the bud
Of life’s precarious spring
Burst into bloom – a Mother’s pride, –
Or droop a blighted thing.
Here many a blushing boy of yore,
Grown bolder in his turn,
Unshrinking flings his glance around
On cheeks for him that burn.
Some who were wont to chase the ball
With foot untiring then,
By time and thought are mellowed down
Grey hair’d and grave old men.
Alas! That in this sunny hour
A sombre shade should fall,
A milldew’s withering spell to one,
A cloud of gloom to all.
The tongue is mute that loudest sang
Etona’s praise of old;
The heart that lov’d these scenes the best
Is stricken down and cold.
It was a sharp and sudden shaft
That struck him in his prime.
We know the hand that guides its aim,
And must abide his time.
Ah, ’twere a thankless task to trace
The dark destroyer’s way,
To dim, perchance, some friendly eye
That should be bright today.
Stern teacher, lead us to the right,
Yet turn we now from thee,
With grateful hearts to greet the train
That grace our Jubilee.
And first beneath our humble roof
Be woman welcome ever,
Her present smile, life’s sweetest charm,
Its balm when friends must sever.
Without that smile these fairy scenes
Would mourn their drooping flowers,
Beneath her frown our joys would fade,
The wreck of blighted hours.
The heroes of a hundred fights
With the swarth Indian tried,
Are welcome from the battle-field
Where their brave comrades died.
Nor less the kindred hearts at home
That read the thrilling story,
And burn to write a deathless name
In England’s page of glory.
Come ye in Fame’s bright livery clad,
England’s unchanging blue,
The dread and envy of the world
Shall here be welcome too.
And welcome ye our Heavenly guides,
Ye ministers of grace
To fields which twice ten years have blest
With harmony and peace.
The gaudy crew, whose god is self,
Shall find cold greeting here,
Where friendship rules the festal board,
Simplicity the cheer.
Sons of the Teign, the bard has sung
Who hailed your rising day,
Who loves you still, and would not live
To mourn your joy’s decay.
We know not, ere a decade pass,
What changes years may bring,
How many may be spared to read,
Or who may live to sing.
The worm around the brow may twine
Where rests the laureate wreath,
And ye who scan this simple lay
Yourselves may cease to breathe.
Yet time hath in his ebbing tide
One sunlit wave of joy.
To-day we revel in the calm
To-morrow may destroy.
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(This poem was taken from Baily’s Magazine Sports and Pastimes Vol 22, 1872)