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West Country Poets

MARY WINDEATT (1811-1873)

MARY WINDEATT was the daughter of S.P. KNOWLES, of Deptford, and afterwards of Ashburton, Devon, and niece of John KNOWLES, F.RS., Executor of FUSELI the painter, and author of FUSELI's life; also author of a 'Treatise on the Prevention of Dry Rot in Ships,', he received very handsome presents from nearly all the crowned heads in Europe.  She was born February 11, 1811; married June 21, 1838, Mr. W. F. WINDEATT, solicitor, Totnes.  She was the authoress of numerous poetical pieces, including many clever squibs used at the famous Totnes Elections.

The following 'Legend of Totnes Castle' was written for use by her husband in a lecture delivered by him on the antiquities of Totnes at the Mechanics' Institute in that town.  Mrs. WINDEATT died at Totnes, March 11, 1873.

LEGEND OF TOTNES CASTLE

St. Mary's vesper bell had ceased,
The nuns from vigil were released, 
The curfew, too, had ceased its knell,
But heard was the solemn passing bell-
When Sister Eva, with cross and book,
Her way from Warland chapel too,
To Totnes Castle's summit steep;
For, lo! In its dungeon, gloomy and deep,
She hears that a wounded knight is lain,
Whose enemies count him among the slain;
No stranger she to the healing art,
And gently and kindly she does her part.
She presses his wrist with her trembling figures,
And finds with delight that life still lingers;
Balsam and essences rare she tries,
And at length he languidly opens his eyes,
For he deems that an angel has gladdened his sight,
Brave Eudo was young, bright Eva was fair,
Need we marvel they soon were a loving pair;
Need we tell how the maiden, ere springtime had ceased,
Confessed more to the knight than she did to the priest;
Need we mention, alas! Ere the summer was done
That this Sister of Mercy - this cloistered nun,
Forgetful of vows, and regardless of all
Save her lover's earnest, impassioned call,
One moonlight night at brave Eudo's side
Escaped as his loving and trusting bride?

Transcribed by Sandra Windeatt 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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