Fair fall on thee the morning light 

A recumbent stone in the south-east quadrant of the Avebury Henge
Image credit Littlestone © The Heritage Trust 

The following poem was penned in 1886 by Mary S Cope (1852-1888). Mary was a young American woman on a journey from her home in Philadelphia to the home of her ancestors in Avebury, Wiltshire. Look out for a guest feature on Mary Cope and her family that we’ll be running here shortly.
 
From western lands
 

From western lands beyond the foam,
We sought our English fathers’ home
By few or known or sung.
Which ‘neath the quiet English skies,
far from all busy haunts it lies
The wide chalk downs among.

Huge druid stones surround the spot,
Which else had almost been forgot
By the great world without.
The mystic ring now scarcely traced
Is by a grassy dike embraced,
Circling the whole about.

Deep hangs the thatch on cottage eaves,
And buried deep in ivy leaves
The cottage windows gleam.
There little birds fly to and fro,
And happy children come and go
With rosy cheek and rustic walk,
They curtsy for the gentle folk,
As they the strangers deem.

With pinks and stocks the beds are gay,
And box and yew their shapes display
Fantastically trimmed.
And each small garden overflows
With scent of woodbine and of rose
Above the borders trim.

The ancient little Norman church,
With quaintly medieval porch,
Stands ‘neath the elm tree tall
Sunk in the graveyard plot around,
The moss-grown headstones scarce are found
Few stoop the lettering to trace
Which time’s rude hand will soon efface.
Some there may be of highborn race,
But none the names recall.

The many gabled manor house,
With winking casement sheen,
Seem in the summer light to drowse
And dream of what has been
And we may dream of earlier days,
When the old convent marked the place,
When nuns in gown and coif complete,
Paced the green paths with quiet feet,
And gather herbs and simples small
Beneath the high brick garden wall,
Finding a safe retreat.

Like some small nest securely placed,
With ferns and grass interlaced,
But open to the light,
The hamlets seem to lie at rest
Upon the common’s ample breast,
Secure in loneliness of space
From aught that could the charm efface
Of innocence and old-world grace
Worn by ancestral right.

Home of sweet days and thankful nights,
Fair fall on thee the morning light,
Soft fall the evening dews.
Wild winds perchance may sweep the wold
But age, untouched by storm or cold,
In memory’s sight thou standest there,
Encircled by serenest air,
In changeless summer hue.

Mary S Cope (1852-1888)