1851–1920

Introduction

Born: Sep­tem­ber 28, 1851, Ship­lake-on-Thames, Eng­land.

Died: May 28, 1920, Al­lan Bank, Gras­mere, Cum­bria, Eng­land.

Buried: St. Ken­ti­gern Church­yard, Great Cros­thwaite, Cum­bria, Eng­land.

portrait
portrait

Biography

Rawnsley was the son of R. D. B. Rawns­ley, some­time Pre­ben­da­ry of Lin­coln, Eng­land. He mar­ried twice, to Ed­ith Fletch­er and El­ea­nor Fos­ter Simp­son.

He was ed­u­cat­ed at Bal­li­ol College, Ox­ford (BA 1875, MA 1883), or­dained an Ang­li­can dea­con in 1875, and priest in 1877.

He served as cur­ate of St. Bar­na­bas, Bri­stol (1875–77); vicar of Low Wray, Lan­ca­shire (1878–83); and vicar of Cros­thwaite, Cum­bria (1883). He al­so served as rural dean of Kes­wick (1883), hon­or­a­ry ca­non of Car­lisle (1891); and proc­tor in con­vo­ca­tion (1905).

Rawn­sley was very ac­tive in con­ser­va­tion in the Lake Dis­trict, and en­cour­aged young Be­a­trix Pot­ter with her draw­ings, which event­u­al­ly be­came part of Pe­ter Rab­bit.

After serv­ing 34 years at Cros­thwaite, Rawns­ley re­tired to Gras­mere in 1917.

His works in­clude:

Poem

Elijah at the Brook Cherith

He stood in presence of the King—
His soul in presence of the Lord—
He said, The brooks shall no more sing,
No more the flowers and grass shall spring,
For dew shall fail from off the lea,
And rain for years shall only be
According to my word!

Proud Ahab’s lips were curled with scorn,
And Jezebel, with serpent hiss.
Cried, Now, by Baal, and the horn
Of Sidon’s altar, we have sworn,
The clouds shall rain, the springs shall flow.
Or, Prophet of Jehovah, know
Thy head shall fall for this!

Then forth from Ahab’s presence went
That dark-eyed man whose hair was long;
The people wondered, women bent
Forth from their lattices, men sent
Long glances after him—he dared
Curse the King’s land, and yet is spared!
But he passed through the throng.

He left the city; beast and man
Were glad; full fountains spouted clear;
Long strings of camels to the Khan
Brought clover green; the caravan
Told of the miles of emerald grain,
The former and the latter rain
Seemed sure, no drought was near!

The people turned them to the west.
The sun sank down, the soft dew fell.
They only saw on Carmel’s crest
Fires burn to Baal; he, God’s guest,
Went eastward underneath the moon,
And thought him of the sultry noon,
Ahab and Jezebel.

And, as he went, he heard the Lord
Say, Get thee to the torrent bed
Before the Jordan! Deeply stored,
There shall the water drink afford,
Yea, even in drought; there at thy need
By hungry ravens that I feed
My prophet shall be fed.

Then down by gulfy Cherith’s side
Elijah, with his shepherd crook,
Passed fearless, there did he abide;
At morning and at eventide
He heard the rush of wings, and saw
The birds that brought with beak and claw
Flesh; and he drank the brook.

Forth as he gazed, he watched the noon
Scorch into dust the grass and grain;
Barren as salt beneath the swoon
Of that unending fierce simoom,
Right from the sea of salt to where
White Hermon’s ridges rose in air
Lay yellow, Jordan’s plain.

The land grew iron underneath,
The heavens were brass from day to day,
Proud Ahab, with his scornful breath,
Cursed the bold Prophet to his death.
But every morn and eventide
The brook its constant gift supplied,
And birds brought food alway.

The lion met him eye to eye,
And pawed the torrent bed, athirst;
At morn and evening from the sky
Fell shadows where the brook was dry.
Then bread, and to the Prophet’s hand
From out the cool of Cherith’s sand
The fountains upward burst.

And since that time both man and beast,
The bird that flies, the brook that sings,
Have come together to one feast.
Love hath in common need increased.
Still in the desert God prepares
A table for the man who dares
To speak the Truth to kings.

Hardwick D. Rawnsley
Poems, Ballads and Bucolics, 1890

Sources

Lyrics