15 February 2017

William Ernest Henley in Cockayne Hatley, Bedfordshire

The impressive grave of the poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903) in the tiny Cockayne Hatley, Bedfordshire.

'WILLIAM
ERNEST
HENLEY'

'SO BE MY PASSING
MY TASK ACCOMPLISHED AND THE LONG DAY DONE
MY WAGES TAKEN AND IN MY HEART
SOME LATE LARK SINGING
LET ME BE GATHERED TO THE QUIET WEST
THE SUNDOWN SPLENDID AND SERENE
DEATH'


'MARGARET EMMA HENLEY
SEPT 4th 1888 FEB 11th 1894

ONLY CHILD OF WILLIAM ERNEST
AND ANNA HENLEY'

Margaret Henley, known to J. M. Barrie, is said to be the inspiration behind Barrie's Wendy of Peter Pan fame. Curiously, a village just a few miles from Cockayne Hatley is called Wendy.

Henley is most remembered for his poem 'Invictus' (1888):

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul'.

1 February 2017

Thomas Inskip in Campton, Bedfordshire

Thomas Inskip (1780–1849) was a watch- and clockmaker born in Kimbolten, Northamptonshire and who died in Brighton. He was a friend of Robert Bloomfield (next to whom he is buried in the chuchyard in Campton) and John Clare, and carried out a correspondence with both rural working-class poets, some of which is available online.

Robert Bloomfield in Shefford, Bedfordshire


Bloomfield House, 17-19 Northbridge Street, Shefford, Bedfordshire.

'ROBERT BLOOMFIELD,
THE PASTORAL POET
DIED HERE AUGUST 19TH 1823.
ERECTED BY CONSTANCE ISHERWOOD
MEPPERSHALL RECTORY.
1904.'