Hilaire Belloc bought King's Land (in Shipley, Sussex), 5 acres and a working windmill for £1000 in 1907 and it was his home for the rest of his life. Belloc loved Sussex as few other writers have loved her: he lived there for most of his 83 years, he tramped the length and breadth of the county, slept under her hedgerows, drank in her inns, sailed her coast and her rivers and wrote several incomparable books about her. "He does not die that can bequeath Some influence to the land he knows, Or dares, persistent, interwreath Love permanent with the wild hedgerows; He does not die, but still remains Substantiate with his darling plains."

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Thursday, 15 March 2012

Ha'nacker Mill...

Ha'nacker Mill is a lament for what was, in Belloc's time, a fast disappearing way of life. He was writing in a fine English tradition. Namely, the 'rural lament' of which Goldsmith was the finest exponent.  This is a recording of Belloc singing it. Peter Warlock also set it to music (not entirely successfully in my view). Latterly, the old mill has been restored: a proud relic of a bygone era.  


Ha'nacker Mill

Sally is gone that was so kindly,
Sally is gone from Ha'nacker Hill
And the Briar grows ever since then so blindly;
And ever since then the clapper is still...
And the sweeps have fallen from Ha'nacker Mill.

Ha'nacker Hill is in Desolation:
Ruin a-top and a field unploughed.
And Spirits that call on a fallen nation,
Spirits that loved her calling aloud,
Spirits abroad in a windy cloud.

Spirits that call and no one answers --
Ha'nacker's down and England's done.
Wind and Thistle for pipe and dancers,
And never a ploughman under the Sun:
Never a ploughman. Never a one.   

Peter Warlock's composition for Ha'nacker Mill  

1 comment:

  1. there is a much finer setting by IVOR GURNEY: a very moving song. Recorded by Ben Luxon on CHANDOS label