Thursday, 28 March 2019

Cloudesley Shovell Henry Brereton (1863 – 1937) – British writer and poet

Cloudesley Shovell Henry Brereton was born in Norfolk in 1863.  He was baptised on 10th January 1864.   His parents were Henry Shovell Brereton and his wife, Emma Brereton, nee White. The family home was Briningham House, Melton Constable, Norfolk.

Cloudesley studied at Cambridge University and gained an MA, before going to study in Paris and Lille.  He then became a teacher: and taught at Perse School, Cambridge 1886 – 1887, Heath Grammer School Halifax, Yorkshire, 1888 – 1890, Clergy Orphan’s School, Canterbury 1891 – 1893, Queen Elizabeth’s College, Guernsey 1893 – 1895. He was a Temporary School Inspector with the Irish Intermediate Board  from 1901 until 1903 and then Divisional School Inspector with the London County Council from 1905 until 1928.  In 1901 Cloudesley published a book entitled “The Educational Crisis in England”.  In 1914, Cloudesley published “Who Is Responsible? Armageddon and After!"

On 12th November 1904 in St. Paul’s Cambridge, Cloudesley married Maud Aedline Horobin, nee Ford, a widow - see

Cloudesley retired to Briningham House in Norfolk and became a farmer before his death in 1937.

A prolific writer who published several books, Cloudesley’s WW1 poetry collections were “The Norfolk Recruit’s Farewell: a ballad” (Jarrold, Norwich, 1917) and  “Mystica et Lyrica” by Cloudesley Brereton (Elkin Mathews, London, 1919).  Some of the poems from “Mystica et Lyrica”:


ON GOING TO THE WAR  To Henry Newbolt

THE busy thoughts that issued bright
From smithies of my brain,
Still serve as weapons in the fight,
Though I myself be slain.
The love I laid up in your breast
Knows neither moth nor rust,
But bears an ample interest,
Though I myself be dust.
And that dear soul, wherein we trace
Our common love, will learn
With you the duties of his race,
Though I no more return.
And so, unto the worst inured,
I go where thousands go,
My love and hope alike secured,
To pay the debt I owe.

12th JULY 1918

To M. Lucien Poincare

HAIL, gracious land, where North and South keep tryst,
Where rivalling sea and land have met and kissed ;
O temperate land, whose people temperate
Seem born between mankind to mediate,
Frank, sympathetic, hospitable and free
Like thy broad valleys winding to the sea ;
Yet in their souls as fierce a fire doth burn
As that beneath thy central core, Auvergne ;
O land where freedom sows her deathless seeds,
Where clear-eyed vision leads men straight to deeds ;
Torch-bearer of the Arts whose steady light
Through the dark Ages lit our western night ;
Skilled in the lore alike of war and peace,
Mistress of all the charms of ancient Greece,
Steeped in the statecraft of Imperial Rome,
To every race a second land and home,
Who gladly reverence thy hegemony
That seeks to make them free as thou art free.

To the Dowager Lady Hastings

THE tall trees fan themselves in the heat,
There is not a cloud in the sky:
No sound is heard save the drowsy beat
Of the gnats’ winged revelry.
The very air seems drugged with sleep,
And afar through its shimmering net
The shadowy hill-tops flicker and peep,
In a moving picture set.
The deer take sanctuary in the shade,
Or deep in the water stand.
Beneath the sun’s fierce fusillade,
(I I) The Park is a No-man’s-land.
The rose-trees languish under the drought,
The tired creeper sags ;
Alone the irises hold out
Amid the drooping flags.
The old house doses away in the blaze
In its solitude, silent and stern,
And dreams of the glories of by-gone days
And the race that will never return.


DEATH SCENE : A Battle-field Cemetery
To Fabian Ware, Director-General of Graves Registration


THE ground seems rocking under my feet,
It breaks in a thousand waves.


Old man ! you stand on the shores of a plain
That is scored with a thousand graves.


Oh ! what is it makes that the tranquil earth
Like an ocean thus swells and heaves ?


The tide of battle swirled over the spot,
And these are the furrows it leaves.
And every furrow holds fast a man,
And the myriads rotting there,
If one could call them again to life,
Would replenish a hemisphere.
But their lights are quenched, and the ground they drenched
With their spendthrift blood may bear
A more plenteous crop of darnel and dock
To blow o’er their lonely lair.


O liar of liars ! Infamous Death !
Their bodies lie fast in your hold,
But the hearts that have felt the passionate beat
Of their hearts can never grow cold.
By the inner light you cannot quench,
I know as sure as I breathe,
They have left us the best in themselves, which we
In turn to our sons may bequeath.
Here is an epoch garnered up,
That on the vacant land
Another may spring — but the seed is the same,
Though sown by a fairer hand.
What lies buried here is the grief and the fear
And the tangled tares of hate,
These are the things that men lay on your bier,
But not their immortal state.

ODE TO FRANCE To his Excellency M. Paul Cambon 

OH FRANCE, the dauntless, the indomitable,
Mighty in victory, mightier in defeat,
As when thy soldiers in that stern retreat
From Maubeuge, Lille, and Argonne turned and fell
Upon the presumptuous foe and thrust him back pell-mell.

Or when, by internecine fever torn
And enemies without encompassed,
Like a sick woman rising from thy bed
Thou ledst thy sons to Vahny, on whose morn
Amid thy thundering guns Europe anew was born.

Hail land where thought, not impulse, action guides,
Where though men prize their nation as a whole,
They deem of boundless worth the humblest soul,
Where strength with weakness, not with strength, takes sides,
And Reason rules the folk, but Mercy’s word decides.

And yet ’tis not thy Rhone, Garonne or Seine,
Thy central peaks, thy Vosges or Pyrenees,
Or enfilading Alps or circling seas,
Or vine-clad valleys or broad Northern plain
That wrought in thee this singleness of heart and brain.

’Tis not thy clear-toned speech, although its spread
Has lent its puissant aid in one to weld
Thy divers races :—’tis the faith long held
In common, perils shared by those who bled
To found this sure communion of the quick and dead.

Hail greatest commune in the community
Of nations, central mart and meeting place
Of all who care for Wisdom, Truth and Grace,
Hail Parthenon of Justice, Liberty
And Brotherhood, to whom all suffering peoples cry.

And now thy long-drawn agony is o’er,
From Dunkerque’s dunes to Verdun’s rolling downs,
High o’er thy ransom’d fields and martyred towns
Free as the heavens floats thy tricolour,
While Peace doth to thy arms long-lost Alsace restore.

To thee all Nations, whether small or great,
Now turn their gaze, for from thy fruitful breast
Shall come, O brooding Mother of the West,
A world-wide peace, that our triumvirate,
America, France, England shall perpetuate.

Source:  Catherine Wl. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) and Find my Past