On the Death of John Griffith Owen

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Who was killed by the fall of a Crane on the Settle and Carlisle Railway, February 18th, 1873.

 

No farewells were spoken, no parting words said

As he went forth at dawning of day ;

For little they thought, ere the morning had fled,

That the summons would call him away.

 

His face was as bright as a morning in spring,

His heart free from sorrow and shame ;

And blythe as a lark, he would carol and sing

Hymns, in praise of his Maker’s great name.

 

And oft ’twas his custom, while plying his toil,

To enliven the task with a song ;

Or, with friends interchanging the joke or the smile,

To make labour pass lightly along.

 

He hath greeted his mates at the cutting of rock,

And to work they have gone with a will :

Whilst he, humming a tune, kept time to the stroke

Of the rattling hammer and drill.

 

The crane groan’d and creak’d and loud roar’d the shot,

And the whistling engine ran by them ;

These were every day things and they heeded them not,

Nor dream’d they that danger was night them.

 

But hark ! a strange sound for a moment is heard –

The crane that o’erhangs them is broken ;

And the heavy jib falls ere a hand can be stirr’d,

Or a sentence of warning be spoken.

 

In a breath, in an instant, it falls down the rock,

And the workmen are scattered below,

But all, except one, have escaped from the shock ;

He, alone, hath received the fell blow.

 

They raise him up gently and utter his name :

’Tis in vain – he hath breath’d his last breath.

The spirit hath fled unto Him, whence it came ;

And the body is silent in death.

 

Ah ! now, heavy sobs convulse the strong breast,

And tears trickle down the hard face,

As they take the remains of the fairest and best,

And bear them away from the place.

 

Oh man in thy power ! oh youth in thy pride !

Trust not in thy strength or thy skill :

When the messenger calls thee to lay them aside,

Be prepared to submit to His will.

 

But how often it happens, that we of short sight,

Are apt to lament or complain,

When death takes the hopeful, the young and the bright,

While the wretch lingers on in his pain.

 

But Thou, whose we are and whose the world is,

Thou, who wash’d out our sins with thy blood ;

In Thy goodness and wisdom do’st nothing amiss,

But arrangest all things for our good.

 

Look Thou down, in Thy mercy and pitying power,

On the parents who mourn for their son :

Give them strength to look up in affliction’s dark hour,

And say let the “ Lord’s will be done. ”

 

Though his sun has gone down, ere it reach’d the noonday,

Though sudden and fearful the blow,

Yet pause and reflect – he hath but gone the way

We all, sooner or later, must go.

 

Then dry up the tear, and let sorrowing cease,

When the body is laid ’neath the sod ;

For, rejoicing above at its early release,

The spirit is present with God.

 

The subject of this poem was buried in Settle Churchyard, in the presence of a large concourse of people, and his friends have marked his resting-place by a neat marble headstone, bearing in addition to the particulars of his age &c. , the following verse in his native language (Welsh) 

Ai mewn bed mai Ioan back-O I’e

Ioan sy’n llwch bellach

Ond daw’n ol etto’n iach

At ail vesi’n fil tylsach.