Epistle to Joseph Skipsey

Epistle to Joseph Skipsey was written by William (Willie) Reay, part of an exchange of poems between the two men.  The original poem has 28 verses, from which I have selected seven, which focus on his friendship with Skipsey and his love of his native land.


Tis three and twenty summers past
Since you and I apart were cast
To fight the cold world’s bitter blast,
As some folk call it;
But let’s be cheerful till the last,
Whate’er befall it.

And in the silent hours of night,
When moon and stars are shining bright,
With whom our souls in raptured flight,
Loves oft to roam:
Seeking amid their sacred light
A lasting home.

Through such fair visions would I stray,
Till wandering by the Wear’s green way,
Where thy fine harp was wont to play,
Beneath those walls,
Whose towering heights like giants grey,
Old time recalls.


To hear thy tales of ancient times,
Of holy men, and kingly crimes,
The while the grand Cathedral chimes,
Would pour their song,
Like poet’s flights in loftiest rhymes,
They float along.

Two pilgrims still; we’d cross the Tyne,
Past wooded glens and castles fine,
To see the Wansbeck waters shine –
Sweet be their flow!
As dear to this fond heart of mine,
Long years ago.

And there a joyous hour I'd spend
With social glass and genial friend,
For then our darkest cares will wend
We know not whither
To see our happiest feelings blend
With one another.

And there among our native hills,
Where bonnie Coquet stream distils,
And Wansbeck, queen of sparkling rills,
And hawthorns scented -
We’d whet again our blunted quills
And live contented
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