To W. R     
(A Friend in Australia.)

William Reay (1830-1903) was a miner, artist and poet.  Skipsey dedicated his early collection of Lyrics to him.  Soon after, in 1860, Reay and his family emigrated, arriving in New South Wales in 1861.  He had hoped to make a living as an artist, but although his work drew much praise, financial necessity forced him to take up work as a miner in Newcastle, NSW.  Later, he became an art teacher and also wrote poetry.  In 1886 he published a volume of Poems and Lyrics, which he had previously sent to Skipsey for comment.  The volume is dedicated to Skipsey, and Reay quotes Skipsey's comments in the introduction.  Skipsey wrote two poems entitled To W. R. while a third poem, The Rydal Trip is also addressed to him.  All three poems have the same metre as the one below, which was used frequently by Reay, including for his poem Epistle to Joseph Skipsey (qv).  As Skipsey's poems do not appear until the 1892 edition of his poems, it is likely that they were a response to Reay's Epistle.

To you, to you, my Willy Reay
Since you've been gone this many a day,
Out o'er the seas and far away,
A word or two
A word to ease my heart, 
I'd say
A word on you.

We've had our troubles great and small

Since last we met you, but 'mid all

We've thought of you and yours, and shall,

While life endures,

With fondness sweet the names recall

Of you and yours.

When you return to this dear land
We'll down and see the castle grand,
Below whose feet two bridges stand,
Of rare design,

By which from bank to bank is spann'd,
Our Coaly Tyne.


We'll walk together down the way,
The glories of our town survey;
A visit to the Dene we'll pay;
Then down the burn

And arm in arm we'll link that day,
When you return.

Away to canny Shields will we,
And bonny Whitley-by-the-Sea,
Then up to Hexham in our glee;
All rest we'll spurn

Till all the country-side we see,
When you return.


Till then, again, adieu, my friend,
And when you have an hour to spend
A rhyme to thy old crony send:
Dear Willy do;

Meanwhile, believe me to the end
A brother true.
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