As the collection of Teignmouth in Verse grows it is intriguing to reflect on how new pieces are discovered.
These particular quatrains were found during a walk from the Teign, through Shaldon and up what I have always known as “Beacon Hill” but is actually “Pickethead Hill”. About half-way up is a bench next to a large pillar which was once the mounting for a sundial. The bench is known locally as “the donkey seat” because is supposedly marks the grave of a donkey.
On the stone are carved two quatrains entitled “Youth” and “Age”.
The first is now almost illegible and seems to be a sundial motto.
The second appears to be an extract from a sacred hymn. The earliest reference I have found is from “A Selection of Hymns adapted for Divine Worship” published in Edinburgh in 1818. The wording doesn’t match exactly but other hymnals and collections of sacred poetry published later also have slight variations in the wording.
Although the first quatrain is barely legible I have found a reference to it the Western Antiquary of 1883. A certain “P.F.R.” of Teignmouth wrote a piece in the Antiquary describing how he had tracked down the pillar and copied the inscriptions. So here they are:
Mark well the hour of need
The too-fleeting shadow tells,
And, reader, ne’er commit a deed
On which a shadow dwells.
And as yon sun, descending, rolls away
To rise in glory at return of day,
So may we set, this transient being o’er,
So may we rise upon the eternal shore.
Want to know more? Check out:
The Western Antiquary … (go to p 106)