22nd January 1861- birth of poet Maurice Hewlett

Maurice Hewlett On the 22nd of January 1861, Maurice Hewlett was born in Weybridge, Surrey.

He found some fame as a poet. He lived for many years in Broad Chalke, and there is a plaque to his memory in the village church.

He was a friend of JM Barrie - Barrie named one of the pirates in Peter Pan after Hewlett’s son Cecco.[1]

In The Trenches

I read and enjoyed one of Hewlett’s poems in John Chandler’s ‘Wiltshire Christmas’ collection last month - I’ll perhaps type it up or find a copy to cut and paste for next Christmas.

Hewlett doesn’t seem to be very ‘well-regarded’ as a poet, but I like what I’ve read.

Anyway, this is, obviously enough, a war poem.

  1. In the Trenches

By Maurice Hewlett

AS I lay in the trenches
Under the Hunter’s Moon,
My mind ran to the lenches
Cut in a Wiltshire down.

I saw their long black shadows,
The beeches in the lane,
The gray church in the meadows
And my white cottage—plain.

Thinks I, the down lies dreaming
Under that hot moon’s eye,
Which sees the shells fly screaming
And men and horses die.

And what makes she, I wonder, Of the horror and the blood,
And what’s her luck, to sunder
The evil from the good?

’T was more than I could compass, For how was I to think
With such infernal rumpus In such a blasted stink?

But here’s a thought to tally With t’other. That moon sees
A shrouded German valley
With woods and ghostly trees.

And maybe there’s a river
As we have got at home
With poplar-trees aquiver And clots of whirling foam.

And over there some fellow,
A German and a foe,
Whose gills are turning yellow
As sure as mine are so,

Watches that riding glory Apparel’d in her gold,
And craves to hear the story Her frozen lips enfold.

And if he sees as clearly As I do where her shrine
Must fall, he longs as dearly,
With heart as full as mine[2].

Image Credits

Wikimedia says ‘This media file is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1923.’ and ‘See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’d like to find out who took the photo though, if only because I quite like it.


[1] Wikipedia says that:

He was born at Weybridge, the eldest son of Henry Gay Hewlett, of Shaw Hall, Addington, Kent. He was educated at the London International College, Spring Grove, Isleworth, and was called to the bar in 1891. He gave up the law after the success of Forest Lovers. From 1896 to 1901 he was Keeper of Lands, Revenues, Records and Enrolments, a government post as adviser on matters of medieval law.

Hewlett married Hilda Beatrice Herbert on 3 January 1888 in St Peter’s Church, Vauxhall, where her father was the incumbent vicar. The couple had two children, a daughter, Pia, and a son, Francis, but separated in 1914, partly due to Hilda’s increasing interest in aviation. In 1911, Hilda had become the first woman in the UK to gain a pilot’s licence.

He settled at Broad Chalke, Wiltshire. His friends included Evelyn Underhill, and Ezra Pound, whom he met at the Poets’ Club in London. He was also a friend of J. M. Barrie, who named one of the pirates in Peter Pan “Cecco” after Hewlett’s son.

Hewlett was parodied by Max Beerbohm in A Christmas Garland in the part titled “Fond Hearts Askew”.[Link]

[2] I copied the poem from 69. In the Trenches by Maurice Hewlett. Clarke, George Herbert, ed. 1917. A Treasury of War Poetry