Undated (To post 13 Sep)
This is a very pretty poem – we found it in a worn leather case; the paper it was written on was brown and brittle and the ink it was written in, faded. Despite the frailty of its substance the strength of the text’s sentiment is potent – ‘she clung to me with woman’s love’….. .
From GDP/57 James Bennetts Williams
James Bennetts Williams (1856-1924) worked in the Cornish tin mines. During the latter decades of the nineteenth century, the tin-mining industry in Cornwall went into decline. Looking for work, Williams emigrated to Bolivia. He wrote this poem during his time in South America, when he was away from his wife, to whom he had only been married for around six months when he went to Bolivia. We also hold the diaries of his wife, Mary Anne Williams (née Prout) (ref. GDP/58).
She clung to me with woman’s love,
Like ivy to the oak;
While o’er my head, with crushing force
Earth’s chilling tempest broke.
When the world looked cold on me,
And blight hung o’er my name,
She soothed my cares with woman’s love,
And bade me rise again.
When care had furrowed o’er my face
And clouded my young hours,
She wove among my crown of thorns
A wreath of love’s own flowers.
And never did that wreath decay,
Or one bright flow’ret wither;
For woman’s tears e’er nourished them,
That they might bloom for ever.
Tis ever thus with woman’s love,
True till life’s storms have passed;
And like the vine around the tree,
It braves them to the last.
JBW Tatasi: June 20th 1884