For this year’s World Poetry Day, we’re celebrating the work of the little-known Hampshire poet, Burnal Charles Lane.
B.C.Lane was born at Hordle, near New Milton, Hampshire in 1900. His father worked on a market garden belonging to Miss Anna Bateson and she instilled in Lane a love of nature, an interest in literature and also taught him to speak French.Lane wrote his first poem aged 16. He was called up for National Service in 1918 and, once it was discovered he could speak French, he worked as a interpreter, including in France and Belgium for the War Graves Commission.
This verse by Lane feels appropriate for the time of year. Note his aside; he must have been interrupted half way through!
Lane married Mabel in 1930 and they had one daughter, Sarah E. Lane, born in 1945.Following Miss Bateson’s death, Lane’s father bought the market garden and Lane became a partner. Lane retired in 1965 which enabled him to devote much of his time to his biggest interest, poetry. The five boxes of material housed in our strongroom attest to the fact that Lane spent as much time as he could writing! He also loved walking in the New Forest, usually with his cairn dog.
Lane published some of his poems privately in 1975 with an introduction by the English poet and translator, John Heath Stubbs, of whom Lane had been a fan:
These are the poems of a countryman who was devoted very many years with a single-minded devotion to the making of verse… the best of them seem to me to be lyrics of the purest water.
A fitting close feels to be this rousing verse which Lane penned in about 1924, ode to his beloved home county.
My Own Hampshire
Rich county, I hail thee! the gem of the South!
Southampton, Winchester and sunny Bournemouth!
Thy forest, thy meadows, hills valleys and streams
Are a source of delight to all who dream dreams.
And, if not a dreamer or poet, you’ll find
That Hampshire folk know what is best for mankind.
So come, drink your glass of wine or good ale
Or, if you prefer it fresh milk from the pail,
And then all together, O come let us sing:
“Of all England’s counties Hampshire is king!”
Fair mistress of England, where Alfred the Great
In Winchester city established his state;
Where stout-hearted Saxon fought Norman and Dane,
And Williams, called Rufus a-hunting was slain.
O, England remembers, remembers thee yet!
Can England her once royal county forget?
So come, drink your glass…
[MS 16 A655/1/1]