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Devon Poets Contents & Search
Mr. KING published in 1842 'Selections from the Early Ballad Poetry of England and Scotland', and from that date until his death was never really out of harness. Among his separately published and acknowledged works, may be mentioned also his 'Anschar, a Story of the North,' printed at Plymouth in 1850, and containing an account of the wanderings in Sweden of St. Anschar, the apostle of the North, when engaged on his mission of converting the hardy Norsemen to Christianity; 'The Forest of Dartmoor and its Borders,' in 1856, two essays in introduction to a large work on the history of Devon, which unfortunately was never carried further; his 'Handbooks to the Cathedrals of England and Wales,' published by Mr. MURRAY during the years 1864-8 in six volumes and containing an elaborate descriptions of those venerable buildings such as could only have been sketched by the pen of an accomplished archaeologist and a practised and reverential student of ecclesiastical architecture; MURRAY's Handbooks to Kent and Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire, Yorkshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge and Essex, and Devon and Cornwall (the latter revised and partially re-written), and a volume of gathered papers published in 1874 under the title 'Sketches and Studies, Descriptive and Historical,' and chiefly collected from Mr. KING's contributions to current periodical literature in the Quarterly, Fraser, and other reviews and magazines. Few more charming bits of mingled history and gossip than his 'Travelling in England,' or the 'Great Shrines of England,' have been contributed to periodical literature in recent years. This list, however, by no means represents the extent of Mr. KING's literature work, amidst which he found time to be a frequent, as he was a valued, contributor to Notes and Queries, the Quarterly Review, Saturday Review and Fraser's Magasine, and to carry on an extensive private correspondence upon the subjects in which he felt so deep an interest.
Mr. KING became a member of the Devonshire Association in 1874, and filled the office of President in 1875, when the association met at Torrington, and his address on that occasion was a learned and critical contribution to the early history of Devon, full of suggestions for further investigation. At the same meeting he also read a paper on 'The Folk-Lore of Devon.' He contributed other papers, which may be found in the 'Transactions' for various years, and was the writer of many fugitive pieces of excellent verse.
Mr. KING died at the Limes, Crediton, after a brief illness, on
March 10, 1879. A handsome memorial window of stained glass
has, through the exertions of the Rev. Prebendary SMITH, been
placed in the parish church at Crediton. Had Mr. KING been a
more ambitious man, he might have left a more brilliant name behind
him; but his life was one of earnest, faithful labour in the nobel
cause to which he had devoted himself, and in that cause he has
left a mark which will not soon be effaced, and amongst his
literary friends, as well as others, none will be more sincerely
mourned that Richard John KING. ('Transactions, Devonshire
Association,' vol xi, 1879, page 58.) THE FOREST OF THE
RICHARD JOHN KING, IN VOL. LV1. OF 'FRASER'S MAGAZINE.')
The King rode down by Caddon ford,
And full five hundred strong rode he;
He saw the dark forest him before -
He thought it awesome for to see
[continued . . . I think?]
Song o' the Outlaw Murray
The purple heather flowers are dark
In the hollow of the hill
Though far along each rocky peak
The sunlight lingers still;
Dark hang the rushes o'er the stream -
There is no sound below,
Save when the fern, by the night's wind
Waves gently to and fro.
Thou old wild forest! many a dream
Of far-off glamoury,
Of gentle knight and solemn sage,
Is resting still on thee.
Still float the mists across the fells
As when those barons bold,
Sir Tristram and Sir Percival
Sped o'er the weary wold.
Still wave the grasses o'er the hills,
And still the streams below,
Under the wild boughs thick with moss,
Sing gladly as they go;
Still over the lonely land
The mountain elves are dwelling,
And ofttimes notes from fairy horns
On the free winds are swelling.
Then through the glens of the folding hills,
And over the heath so brown,
King Arthur leads his belted knights
Homewards to Carlyoun;
A goodly band, with long bright spears
Upon their shoulders set,
And first of all that Flower of Kings
With his golden coronet.
And sometimes, by the clear hill streams,
A knight rides on alone;
He rideth ever beside the river,
Although the day be done;
For he looketh toward the western land
Where watcheth his ladye,
On the shore of the rocky Cornewayle,
In the castle by the sea.
And o'er the green paths of the moors
When the burning sun is high,
Queen Guinevere comes forth in state
Beneath her canopy.
Her squires in robes of sendal bright
Bear up the silken shade,
And the ringing of their bridal reins
Fills all the forest glade.
And when the stars are few above,
And hills are dark below,
The fay, Morgana, sits alone
Beside the river's flow.
She sitteth alone beneath the boughs
That look on the waters clear,
And a low sweet song she singeth there -
The Lady of the Mere.
She telleth of glad, free wanderings
By haunted spring and wave,
And how, beneath a fairy thorn,
She dug old Merlin's grave;
All snowy white with blossomings
The knotted arms outspread,
All snowy white the blossoms fall
Upon his darksome bed.
Thou old wild forest! through thy glens
Once rang the hart's bell free,
The mountain wolf led forth her cubs
Beneath the dark pine-tree;
And where the broom and the birchen sprays
Hang o'er the sparkling rills,
The giant deer with branching horn
Passed upwards to the hills.
And now they rocks are silent all,
The kingly chase is o'er,
Yet none may take from thee old land,
Thy memories of yore.
In many a green and solemn place
Girt with the wild hills round
The shadow of the holy cross
Yet sleepeth on the ground.
In many a glen where the ash keys hang
All golden 'midst their leaves,
The knights' dark strength is rising yet,
Clad in its wild-flower wreaths.
And yet along the mountain-paths
Rides forth that stately band,
A vision of the dim old days -
A dream of fairyland.
Transcribed from: Wright, W. H. K.,(1896) West-Country Poets: Their Lives and Works. London: Elliot Stock, pp.48-51
Last updated 22 Jul 2011 - Brian Randell.
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