Rotten Bridge Written upon that dreadful catastrophe at Hartlake on
the river Medway Oct 20 1853|
By George Bailey of Cowden
Humanity come drop a tear,
O'er kindred mortal's awful fate;
Snatch'd from the world & all that's dear,
And usher'd on the eternal state.
from the long lov'd scenes of home,
They sought the golden Kentish land;
Prompted by poverty to roam,
And labour'd here with willing hand.
Wild & untaught strains they sung,
As from their labour they return'd;
The fading woods with echo rung,
And oft for home their bowels yearn'd.
The creaking wain now reel'd along,
To bear them to their hovel bed;
Light hearted sang the peasant throng,
As o'er the deep their pathway led.
The offrighted steed glanc'd o'er the flood,
And plung'd athwart with loaded wain;
The tott'ring pallisades of wood
And rotten timbers burst in twain.
Methinks I hear the fearful crash,
No human power on earth could save;
With piercing shrieks they downward dash
Engulph'd within a watery grave
but one spark of feeling owns,
But melt to sorrow's pitying tone;
When fancy paints their death-like groans,
That last cold grasp, that stifled moan
Old rotten bridge, thy very name
Posterity with grief will hear;
And brand thine owner's name with shame,
And weep a wild empassion'd tear.
Unnumber'd blessings God has given,
Yet mammon fills with gold his purse
And, grasping, holds the gifts of Heaven,
Denies their use, & brings a curse.
Ye victims, sleep in calm repose,.
Though nature shrinks from such a bed;
Ye'll rest as peacefully as those,
With sculptur'd marble over head.
published in 'In a Forgotten Corner' by Kevin Laing
Poems written in the 19th century by George Bailey of Cowden,
Kent. First published in 1854. Merlin Books, Braunton, Devon.