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West Country Poets
WILLIAM CREES (1854-)
William CREES was born at Exminster, near Exeter, on June 17, 1854,
his father being a tradesman of the village. Being the eldest
in the family, the services of the boy were called into requisition
at the age of ten (he had previously received his education at the
village school). From his earliest years he scribbled verses,
and gained for himself the sobriquet of 'Village Poet.' At
the age of sixteen he left home, and sought employment in
Exeter. There, without any previous knowledge of the trade,
he procured a situation as trimmer in a large coach-building
establishment, where he remained until incapacitated from work by a
fever. He next went to Cardiff, and got a situation as clerk
in the goods office of the Rhymney Railway Company. An
unfortunate disagreement with the manager caused him to resign this
appointment, but he succeeded in obtaining another situated at
Cardiff, in connection with the London, and North-Western
Railway. This post he held for about a year, and during this
time his pen was most prolific. Home calls, however, grew
loud, and William CREES was fortunate in obtaining a situation on
the railway at Exeter; and in spite of the arduous duties imposed
on him, he was able to write his longest poem, 'Recollections of
Exwick'. For a short time he took to scholastic work, but
found it uncongenial to his tastes, and so relinquished it.
He then turned his hand to painting, papering, and other matters of
house-work; but tiring of this, he turned again to coach-building,
remaining in this line until the firm was broken up. Making
many unsuccessful applications for situations, he thought he would
try some business on his own account, so he started at South
Wonford, Heavitree, in the boot and shoe line - his father's
business. After about five years' steady work, he was offered
and accepted the position of local agent to the Prudential
Assurance Company, and eventually became
assistant-superintendent. He now represents that company at
Exeter, but sill resides at Heavitree, where in his leisure moments
he amuses himself by writing snatches of song, many of which find
their way to the public through the medium of the local newspapers
- 'grateful to a bountiful God for His mercies, and happy in the
humble sphere in which he moves.'
We give a short extract from Mr. CREES' effusions, of which he
has four volumes in manuscript:
TO A CHRYSANTHEMUM
Coming when the days are sober,
When the skies are dull and sober;
Shining as a precious gem,
Beauteous as a diadem,
Day-star of October!
Coming in the autumn time,
When the Summer flowers are dying,
When her last few flowers are dying,
And her joyous song and chime
End their music so sublime,
And she's lifeless lying!
When the sere and yellow leaf
From its native spray is falling
Strews the mourning earth in falling,
Sad additions to her grief;
Then thou com'st to give relief,
Nature's bloom recalling.
And thou com'st amid the woe
Like a smile in time of sorrow,
Smile of love in deepest sorrow;
Or bright Hope when eyes o'erflow,
And our hearts are sad and low,
Pointing brighter morrow.
Or amid the leaves that lie
On the graves of the departed,
Our beloved ones departed;
Withered now, but by-and-bye
Blooming in the realms on high,
Glad and joyous-hearted.
Blooming in a land of bliss,
O'er the wreck of time and sorrow,
Ne'er to know another sorrow;
And their lovely form in this
Minds me of the coming bliss
Makes me wish the morrow!
Standing like an angel near me,
Blooming 'midst the dark and dreary,
Lifting on thy leafy stem
Hope's bright star, to gladden them
Who are weak and weary.
Transcribed by Sandra Windeatt from: Wright, W.H.K., (1896)
West-Country Poets: Their Lives and Works. London:
Elliot Stock, pp. 125-6..
Last updated 22 Jul 2011 - Brian Randell.
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