Project Canterbury

Christian Ballads

By A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D.

New York: D. Appleton, 1865.

Rustic Churches.

St. Gabriel's, Windsor, Connecticut.


YES--'tis the village-joiner's work,
  With but his axe and saw:
No Wykeham was the humble clerk
  That such a plan could draw!
'Tis what a rural parish could,
  With what its farms supplied;
Not what in mind and heart they would,
  Had they the gold beside.


Yet hath it merit--in the eye
  That can, by fancy's aid,
What time can only give, supply,
  Of shrubbery and shade.
Add but of ancient elms a score,
  Those undissenting trees,
And he that passeth by shall pore,
  Well-pleased, on what he sees.


Its merits, first, is--what 'tis not;
  That hippogriff of art,
By crude Genevan rites begot,
  Half temple, and half mart:
Nor yet that type of changing shifts,
  A hall low-roofed and tinn'd
On which a wooden Babel lifts
  Its weather-cock to wind.


Nor does it bring those shaggy curs
  Instinctively to mind,
With forward parts adorned in furs,
  But shaven close behind;
Like many a pine-wood parody
  Of Parthenon or Pnyx,
Which oft, as frontispiece, we see,
  To chapel built of bricks.


Again--as country parsons speak,
  Some merit it may claim
In that it dares to look antique,
  In colour and in frame.
And then, no passer-by can doubt
  Its spiritual kin,
For oh, it tells the truth, without,
  Of what it is, within!


All that the Church requires it hath,
  Chancel, and porch, and nave,
A sacristy, and holy bath
  The sinner's soul to lave:
And in the baptist'ry, a well;
  O'er-head, an open roof;
A gable-cot to hold the bell;
  The cross--a church's proof!


So once--where now St. Joseph's thorn
  Blooms by an abbey's towers,
Stood the poor Briton's church, forlorn,
  And ruder far than ours!
Nor here the faithful eye shall fail
  The brightening view to catch,
That opened from that structure frail
  Of wicker-work and thatch.


For dear is even the first rude art
  Which holy Faith inspires!
The whole is augured from the part,
  Achievements--from desires.
At least such churches symbolize
  The place where CHRIST was born;
And mangers may to minsters rise,
  As noontide from the morn.

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