A Lament For Dorothy and Archibald
Who took their lives on the 28th August 1916
Each little river has a tale which, if understood, cannot fail
To edify the Human heart; mine’s of Lovers who’d not part:
Both loved Nature, read her runes and worshipped countless harvest moons.
He, a Minchinhampton Man – she the lanes of Burleigh ran,
Eager, passionate, enthralled to embrace her Archibald.
The stream that gushes into town on Hazel Woods, as hail, crashed down.
High on that ridge where sheep are shorn, a tiny rivulet was born.
It seeped through soil and chiselled stone, caressing sea-spawned Cotswold bone.
A weave of light like soft silk shook became a dancing, babbling brook.
Through Gatcombe Park the waters curled, then through its stately gardens swirled
To trace a spiral as they whirled past Longfords Mill.
Silhouette upon a twig, a dancing bird performs a jig;
She tips her tail, she dips her bill, she fans her feathers, she drinks her fill.
Mesmerised within this stream, new-born fish cascade and gleam;
So receptive is this river, even ducklings make it shiver;
Yet in this water, ice-cold, holy, these Lovers dipped their warm skin… slowly;
One a boy of twenty-four, off to fight a foreign war,
One a maid of sweet eighteen, whose love was rich and raw and keen:
These Lovers, who would not be parted, had a notion, which once started took firm root:
there was a way to overcome their Parting-day;
Sworn with many a heart-felt vow, they meant to end their lives right now,
To slip beneath Iron Mills Pond and from this Vale of Tears abscond,
To slip beneath an steel-cold lake and never ever once more wake
And to that end, with all their might, they bound his army great-coat tight
About their loving limbs, and then they slipped beneath that water
That stole away an old man’s daughter;
That stole away an only child – a boy once meek and sweet and wild.
In The Weighbridge Inn their bodies lay – was it for this God fashioned clay?
Was it for this that they were born, to never see another dawn?
To never witness dawn’s clear light first kindle then set the vale alight?
To never see each drop of dew shimmer with a rainbow hue,
To never hear a barn-owl sing, or watch the moonlight flood her wing,
To never smell his lover’s hair, or kiss those lips beyond compare.
He’s buried now, not far from home and those wild woods he used to roam,
His stone’s by Minchinhampton’s Church and near it passing crows find perch.
Her, sadder, grave, in Amberley, is all but lost to gravity,
Her tottering stone is sinking down towards rich earth that holds her crown,
Her hair, her eyes, her loving heart that from her Archie wouldn’t part;
Her unkempt grave, beneath a lime bears witness to another crime,
How could so sad and tender a tale be all but lost: let us not fail
To spread their edifying story. Tragic? Yes, yet tinged with glory:
For Love, Sweet Love, they’d die as one and forgo both stars and sun.
Their final words? The War they cursed, then defied Death to do his worst.
Thanks to Anthony Hentschel for the above post.