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KEVIN DIXON: TW Booker's 1815 Ode to Torquay

By This is SouthDevon  |  Posted: January 28, 2013

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LOCAL historian Dr Kevin Dixon writes: Way back in 1815, the poet TW Booker wrote a poem about Torquay entitled... well... “Torquay: A Poem’.

A century later it was being hailed as having successfully predicted that the town would become a prosperous tourist resort, its hills boasting “villas and mansions fair”.

Now, a further century later, is TW Booker still as prescient?

Here’s “Torquay: A Poem:

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Lo! time shall come, when on yon throng'd parade

Shall groups assemble, — swains and many a maid,

And elder dames and sires, in converse gay,

Breathing sweet health fresh-wafted from the bay

And yonder hills all boasting purest air

Shall smile with villas and with mansions fair ;

Adorn'd with gardens or with paddocks green

These scatter'd round shall on the heights be seen;—

While Commerce trading to a distant world,

Her streamers flying and her sails unfurl'd,

Shall, when the winds awake the waves from sleep,

Spot the bright bosom of the refluent deep,'

Thus sings the muse, — and were her strains divine

Propitious days, Torquay, should hence be thine, —

Where Nature not august alone appears,

But, fraught with wealth, her beauteous head she rears.

Behold these rocks in dazzling splendour shine,

Each rock in marble an exhaustless mine!

Here with delight the checker'd fields behold

While Autumn tints the ripening corn with gold ;

Or while the storms of winter howl around,

And not a blooming plant or leaf be found

In other scenes, — in this mild clime the rose

In all its beauty, all its fragrance blows,

Here Venus' fav'rite tree is smiling seen

Clad in a never-fading vest of green. —

What marvel then, that stricken sufferers come

From distant climes thy shores to make their home,

To sojourn here while wintry months pass by

And icy storms abroad terrific fly

In their own country? — for in calmest sway

Does Winter reign around the blest Torquay.

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