The Old Names
by Katharine Lee Jenner (Mrs. Henry Jenner)
Out of the vast void of oblivion
Rings the wild melody
Of those old words, whose only resting-place
Is the vague memory
Of man, the creature so prone to forget,
Yet who forgetting clings,
Subconsciously remembering their sense,
To the old names and things.
The music of the old names is worn thin
By busy lips of men;
Yet they are eloquent of ancient dreams
Of knightly valour, when
The hills were purpled and the valleys stained
With battles and sore strife,
And of the deeds, achievements, hopes and fears,
Of long-forgotten life.
Come to Carn Brea, beside Trevorian Down,
And hear the Gwynver call*
From Vellandreath, Carn Bargas, and Carn Ky,
While evening shadows fall
On Tregonebris and Boscawen-Oon,
And over Crows-an-Wra,
And on Bartinny and Caer Brane there shines
The light of dying day.
Away beyond Rospannel and Boscarn
And Buryan tower above,
The southern sea is gleaming through the gap
That marks Lamorna Cove,
And all about St.Levan and Penberth
On to Pedn-Men-an-Mere
The sunset shines upon a land whose names
Are music everywhere.
These names of our dead speech are music still
In our dear living land,
Which never can be void of desolate
While here on every hand
Is still the record of our fathers’ lives,
Though their old hopes and fears
Have passed away like sunlight on the hills
Down through the path of years.
* The “calling of the Gwynver” is the sound of the sea breaking upon Gwynver Sands by Sennen. The story is that it is the sea moaning for the loss of Guinevere, who escaped from it when Lyonnesse was submerged. Sometimes it can be heard as far off as Penzance, and it betokens evil fortune.