Riders by Harold Lawrence

During my almost two decades of research on Francis Asbury, one of my favorite discoveries is a poem by Harold Lawrence.  It resides in the book, Methodist Preachers in Georgia, 1783 – 1900.  Mr. Lawrence is the author of both the poem and the book.  It reads as follows:

Who were those who entered here

Through a corridor in time

Under the arches made by boughs

Into a sanctuary of groves

Down the river roads?

Who willed their presence?

Who commended them to bring

A Word to God-forsaken places,

Rehearsing their exhortations

To the empty lands?

What passion set their tongues

Proclaiming in the starlight

Between the settlements?

In that barren darkness,

What magnificence stirred their blood?

They came with restless spirits

On horses balking in the swollen streams,

Bearing their ideals in flesh

That died from river fevers

And the chill of solitary camps.

Announced on the morning vapors

With whippoorwills for heralds,

They entered into human habitations

And shouted in the arbors,

Expecting others to catch their fire.

Remounting by the ashes

Of still-warm convictions,

Aching in the stirrups,

They vanished in the twists

Of creeks and generations.

In consecrated moments,

Their harness still thrown over

The urges of a world

Bridled now and tamed,

they gallop through our memory

And beyond.


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