Felicia Dorothea Hemans

(25 September 1793 – 16 May 1835 / Liverpool, England)

The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers in New England


"Look now abroad--another race has fill'd
Those populous borders--wide the wood recedes,
And town shoots up, and fertile realms are till'd;
The land is full of harvests and green meads."--BRYANT
The breaking waves dash'd high
On a stern and rock-bound coast,
And the woods against a stormy sky
Their giant branches toss'd;

And the heavy night hung dark,
The hills and waters o'er,
When a band of exiles moor'd their bark
On the wild New England shore.

Not as the conqueror comes,
They, the true-hearted, came;
Not with the roll of the stirring drums,
And the trumpet that sings of fame;

Not as the flying come,
In silence and in fear;--
They shook the depths of the desert gloom
With their hymns of lofty cheer.

Amidst the storm they sang,
And the stars heard and the sea:
And the sounding aisles of the dim woods rang
To the anthem of the free!

The ocean eagle soar'd
From his nest by the white wave's foam
And the rocking pines of the forest roar'd--
This was their welcome home!

There were men with hoary hair
Amidst that pilgrim band:--
Why had they come to wither there,
Away from their childhood's land?

There was woman's fearless eye,
Lit by her deep love's truth;
There was manhood's brow serenely high,
And the fiery heart of youth.

What sought they thus afar?
Bright jewels of the mine?
The wealth of seas, the spoils of war?--
They sought a faith's pure shrine!

Ay, call it holy ground,
The soil where first they trode.
They have left unstained, what there they found--
Freedom to worship God.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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  • Rookie Gwilym Williams (11/5/2009 2:21:00 AM)

    This 'vigorously grandiloquent'' poem is mentioned at the beginning of Bill Bryson's 'Made in America' but Bryson only quotes the first 2 verses. Apparently Hemans lived in North Wales and read about a founder's day celebration in Plymouth, Mass. on a piece of newspaper in which her groceries were wrapped. She was inspired to write her poem, which bears little relationship to the facts. A 'poet of limited talents' Bryson calls her. Her most famous line, which every schoolboy knows is: the boy stood on the burning deck. (Report) Reply

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