Tuesday, 28 April 2009

F.W. Faber

Frederick William Faber, author of so many memorable hymns, also wrote several poems about Oxford - a fact I learned as long ago as yesterday, and now intend to share with you. They were included in his 1840 collection The Cherwell Water-Lily and Other Poems; this one is the first of a series of four sonnets.

'College Chapel'

A shady seat by some cool mossy spring,
Where solemn trees close round, and make a gloom,
And faint and earthy smells, as from a tomb,
Unworldly thoughts and quiet wishes bring:
Such hast thou been to me each morn and eve;
Best loved when most thy call did interfere
With schemes of toil or pleasure, that deceive
And cheat young hearts ; for then thou mad'st me feel
The holy Church more nigh, a thing to fear.
Sometimes, all day with books, thoughts proud and wild
Have risen, until I saw the sunbeams steal
Through painted glass at evensong, and weave
Their threefold tints upon the marble near,
Faith, prayer, and love, the spirit of a child.

The photograph is of the chapel of Balliol College, where Faber was an undergraduate for a time.