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.
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:
He stood in presence of the King—
His soul in presence of the Lord—
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.
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
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