April 18, 2013

POETRY: FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011

AT BLADON

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30 January 1965— “The village stations on the way to Bladon were crowded with his countrymen, and at Bladon in a country churchyard, in the stillness of a winter evening, in the presence of his family and a few friends, Winston Churchill was committed to English earth, which in his finest hour he had held inviolate.” —Lord Moran, Churchill: The Struggle for Survival (London: Constable, 1966), 842

Palace of Westminster, London

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At Bladon, as Sir Winston’s casket was lowered into English earth, the broadcaster Richard Dimbleby recited with a breaking voice a poem written for the occasion. During the 10th Churchill Tour in 2006, in pouring rain, Honorary Member Robert Hardy re-read the poem at the gravesite. A reader asked for the text, which we are pleased to supply, through kind assistance of the Reverend Canon Roger Humphreys, former Rector of Bladon and Woodstock.

Drop English earth on him beneath
do our sons; and their sons bequeath
his glories and our pride and grief
at Bladon.

For Lionheart that lies below
that feared not toil nor tears nor foe.
Let the oak stand tho’ tempests blow
at Bladon.

So Churchill sleeps, yet surely wakes
old warrior where the morning breaks
On sunlit uplands. But the heart aches
at Bladon. 

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