An 80th Birthday Poem by the Aeronautical Baronet

Sir George Cayley, the 6th (aeronautical) baronet, was always a man who teased and flattered ladies. Including his wife, right up to the end of what was a very long marriage. Here is a poem he wrote on her 80th birthday in 1853.

Full many a pleasing, many an anxious thought
This lengthened day of eighty years has brought.
The sylph-like form, with budding beauty graced,
The guileless smile, by no reserve defaced,
In early life my soul enchanted held,
And every worldly anguish daily quelled.
In middle life a numerous offspring bound
Our hearts still closer on this mutual ground.
Advancing years dispersed that youthful flock:
Marriage and death parental bonds unlock,
And childhood ripened into man’s estate
Runs the same round assigned to us by fate.
In after life by gradual slight decay
We cheerful trod our ever downward way;
And now the barrier seems upon its verge,
A future world beyond the funeral dirge
Comes full in view, and with its cheering smile
In trustful confidence all fears beguile.
To meet in that bright world of peace above
Those who engaged our short and earthly love,
To part no more, and share in heavenly joy
Angelic thoughts, and loves that never cloy;
In these chaste views our hearts can still unite –
The rising moon outshines the coming night.

The reference to meeting in “that bright world of peace” may well have been hopeful thinking. Sarah, his wife, was prone to furious outbursts of temper, and it was said of Sir George that, as a result, he had been born in Paradise but lived in Purgatory.

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