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Poems About New England

Table of Contents

  1. The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers In New England by Felicia Dorothea Hemans
  2. Five Kernels of Corn by Hezekiah Butterworth
  3. New England Thanksgiving by Ruby Archer
  4. A New England Thanksgiving by Bliss Carman
  5. The New England Pastor by Timothy Dwight
  6. 'Tis May now in New England by Bliss Carman
  7. A New England June by Bliss Carman
  8. The Bluebells of New England by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
  9. Country Sleighing by Edmund Clarence Stedman
  10. New England Woods by Amos Russel Wells
  11. Wintergreen by Amos Russel Wells
  12. A Remembrance by Bliss Carman
  13. My Lost Youth by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  14. The Yankee Boy by John Pierpont

  1. The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers In New England

    by Felicia Dorothea Hemans. Note: This poem is sometimes wrongly attributed to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

    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.

  2. Five Kernels of Corn

    by Hezekiah Butterworth

    'Twas the year of the famine in Plymouth of old,
    The ice and the snow from the thatched roofs had rolled;
    Through the warm purple skies steered the geese o'er the seas,
    And the woodpeckers tapped in the clocks of the trees;
    And the boughs on the slopes to the south winds lay bare,
    and dreaming of summer, the buds swelled in the air.
    The pale Pilgrims welcomed each reddening morn;
    There were left but for rations Five Kernels of Corn.
    Five Kernels of Corn!
    Five Kernels of Corn!
    But to Bradford a feast were Five Kernels of Corn!

    "Five Kernels of Corn! Five Kernels of Corn!
    Ye people, be glad for Five Kernels of Corn!"
    So Bradford cried out on bleak Burial Hill,
    And the thin women stood in their doors, white and still.
    "Lo, the harbor of Plymouth rolls bright in the Spring,
    The maples grow red, and the wood robins sing,
    The west wind is blowing, and fading the snow,
    And the pleasant pines sing, and arbutuses blow.
    Five Kernels of Corn!
    Five Kernels of Corn!
    To each one be given Five Kernels of Corn!"

    O Bradford of Austerfield hast on thy way,
    The west winds are blowing o'er Provincetown Bay,
    The white avens bloom, but the pine domes are chill,
    And new graves have furrowed Precisioners' Hill!
    "Give thanks, all ye people, the warm skies have come,
    The hilltops are sunny, and green grows the holm,
    And the trumpets of winds, and the white March is gone,
    Five Kernels of Corn!
    Five Kernels of Corn!
    Ye have for Thanksgiving Five Kernels of Corn!

    "The raven's gift eat and be humble and pray,
    A new light is breaking and Truth leads your way;
    One taper a thousand shall kindle; rejoice
    That to you has been given the wilderness voice!"
    O Bradford of Austerfield, daring the wave,
    And safe through the sounding blasts leading the brave,
    Of deeds such as thine was the free nation born,
    And the festal world sings the "Five Kernels of Corn."
    Five Kernels of Corn!
    Five Kernels of Corn!
    The nation gives thanks for Five Kernels of Corn!
    To the Thanksgiving Feast bring Five Kernels of Corn!

    Out of small beginnings great things have been produced, as one small candle may light a thousand.

    – William Bradford
    Governor of Plymouth Colony
  3. New England Thanksgiving

    by Ruby Archer

    Before the fire a rough settee,
    A father musing there,
    A kitten blinking on his knee,
    And through the cozy air
    The downward perfume sweetly sighing
    Of seeds upon the rafters drying;
    While yonder by the candle sits
    A white-capped dame who softly knits.
    He thinks the needles click in flying:
    "My heart is glad, is glad.
    My heart, my heart is glad."

    He cons the lavish summer o'er,—
    The famine sped, the brimming chest,
    The welcome flails upon the floor,
    The harvest wain with burden blest.
    He sees his maiden daughter spinning,
    (In 'kerchief dainty) fair and winning,
    And music of the spinning-wheel
    Goes murmuring on in tread and reel,
    Forever ending, e'er beginning:
    "My heart is glad, is glad.
    My heart, my heart, is glad."

  4. A New England Thanksgiving

    by Bliss Carman

    It is the mellow season
    When gold enchantment lies
    On stream and road and woodland,
    To gladden soul's surmise.
    The little old grey homesteads
    Are quiet as can be,
    Among their stone-fenced orchards
    And meadows by the sea.

    Here lived the men who gave us
    The purpose that holds fast,
    The dream that nerves endeavor,
    The glory that shall last.
    Here strong as pines in winter
    And free as ripening corn,
    Our faith in fair ideals—
    Our fathers' faith—was born.

    Here shone through simple living,
    With pride in word and deed,
    And consciences of granite,
    The old New England breed.
    With souls assayed by hardship,
    Illumined, self-possessed,
    Strongly they lived, and left us
    Their passion for the best.

    On trails that cut the sunset,
    Above the last divide,
    The vision has not vanished,
    The whisper has not died.
    From Shasta to Katahdin,
    Blue Hill to Smoky Ridge,
    Still stand the just convictions
    That stood at Concord Bridge.

    Beneath our gilded revel,
    Behind our ardent boast,
    Above our young impatience
    To value least and most,
    Sure as the swinging compass
    To serve at touch of need,
    Square to the world's four corners,
    Abides their fearless creed.

    Still fired with wonder-working,
    Intolerant of peers,
    Impetuous and sanguine
    After the hundred years,
    In likeness to our fathers,
    Beyond the safe-marked scope
    Of reason and decorum,
    We jest and dare and hope.

    Thank we the Blood that bred us,
    Clear fibre and clean strain—
    The Truth which straightly sighted
    Lets no one swerve again.
    And may almighty Goodness
    Give us the will to be
    As sweet as upland pastures,
    And strong as wind at sea.

  5. The New England Pastor

    Timothy Dwight

    The place, with east and western sides,
    A wide and verdant street divides:
    And here the houses faced the day,
    And there the lawns in beauty lay.
    There, turret-crowned, and central, stood
    A neat and solemn house of God.
    Across the way, beneath the shade
    Two elms with sober silence spread,
    The preacher lived. O'er all the place
    His mansion cast a Sunday grace;
    Dumb stillness sate the fields around;
    His garden seemed a hallowed ground;
    Swains ceased to laugh aloud, when near,
    And schoolboys never sported there.

    In the same mild and temperate zone,
    Twice twenty years, his course had run,
    His locks of flowing silver spread
    A crown of glory o'er his head;
    His face, the image of his mind,
    With grave and furrowed wisdom shined;
    Not cold; but glowing still, and bright;
    Yet glowing with October light:
    As evening blends, with beauteous ray,
    Approaching night with shining day.

    His Cure his thoughts engrossed alone:
    For them his painful course was run:
    To bless, to save, his only care;
    To chill the guilty soul with fear;
    To point the pathway to the skies,
    And teach, and urge, and aid, to rise;
    Where strait, and difficult to keep,
    It climbs, and climbs, o'er Virtue's steep.

  6. 'Tis May Now in New England

    by Bliss Carman

    'Tis May now in New England
    And through the open door
    I see the creamy breakers,
    I hear the hollow roar.

    Back to the golden marshes
    Comes summer at full tide,
    But not the golden comrade
    Who was the summer's pride.

  7. A New England June

    by Bliss Carman

    These things I remember
    Of New England June,
    Like a vivid day-dream
    In the azure noon,
    While one haunting figure
    Strays through every scene,
    Like the soul of beauty
    Through her lost demesne.

    Gardens full of roses
    And peonies a-blow
    In the dewy morning,
    Row on stately row,
    Spreading their gay patterns,
    Crimson, pied and cream,
    Like some gorgeous fresco
    Or an Eastern dream.

    Nets of waving sunlight
    Falling through the trees;
    Fields of gold-white daisies
    Rippling in the breeze:
    Lazy lifting groundswells,
    Breaking green as jade
    On the lilac beaches,
    Where the shore-birds wade.

    Orchards full of blossom,
    Where the bob-white calls
    And the honeysuckle
    Climbs the old gray walls;
    Groves of silver birches,
    Beds of roadside fern,
    In the stone-fenced pasture
    At the river's turn.

    Out of every picture
    Still she comes to me
    With the morning freshness
    Of the summer sea, —
    A glory in her bearing,
    A sea-light in her eyes,
    As if she could not forget
    The spell of Paradise.

    Thrushes in the deep woods,
    With their golden themes,
    Fluting like the choirs
    At the birth of dreams.
    Fireflies in the meadows
    At the gate of Night,
    With their fairy lanterns
    Twinkling soft and bright.

    Ah, not in the roses,
    Nor the azure noon,
    Nor the thrushes' music,
    Lies the soul of June.
    It is something finer,
    More unfading far,
    Than the primrose evening
    And the silver star;

    Something of the rapture
    My beloved had,
    When she made the morning
    Radiant and glad,—
    Something of her gracious
    Ecstasy of mien,
    That still haunts the twilight,
    Loving though unseen.

    When the ghostly moonlight
    Walks my garden ground,
    Like a leisurely patrol
    On his nightly round,
    These things I remember
    Of the long ago,
    While the slumbrous roses
    Neither care nor know.

  8. The Bluebells of New England

    by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

    The roses are a regal troop,
    And modest folk the daisies;
    But, Bluebells of New England,
    To you I give my praises—

    To you, fair phantoms in the sun,
    Whom merry Spring discovers,
    With bluebirds for your laureates,
    And honey-bees for lovers.

    The south-wind breathes, and lo! you throng
    This rugged land of ours:
    I think the pale blue clouds of May
    Drop down, and turn to flowers!

    By cottage doors along the roads
    You show your winsome faces,
    And, like the spectre lady, haunt
    The lonely woodland places.

    All night your eyes are closed in sleep,
    Kept fresh for day's adorning:
    Such simple faith as yours can see
    God's coming in the morning!

    You lead me by your holiness
    To pleasant ways of duty;
    You set my thoughts to melody,
    You fill me with your beauty.

    Long may the heavens give you rain,
    The sunshine its caresses,
    Long may the woman that I love
    Entwine you in her tresses!

  9. Country Sleighing

    by Edmund Clarence Stedman

    In January, when down the dairy
    The cream and clabber freeze,
    When snow-drifts cover the fences over,
    We farmers take our ease.
    At night we rig the team,
    And bring the cutter out;
    Then fill it, fill it, fill it, fill it,
    And heap the furs about.

    Here friends and cousins dash up by dozens,
    And sleighs at least a score;
    There John and Molly, behind, are jolly,
    Nell rides with me, before.
    All down the village street
    We range us in a row:
    Now jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle,
    And over the crispy snow!

    The windows glisten, the old folks listen
    To hear the sleigh-bells pass;
    The fields grow whiter, the stars are brighter,
    The road is smooth as glass.
    Our muffled faces burn,
    The clear north-wind blows cold,
    The girls all nestle, nestle, nestle,
    Each in her lover's hold.

    Through bridge and gateway we're shooting straightway,
    Their tollman was too slow!
    He'll listen after our song and laughter
    As over the hill we go.
    The girls cry, "Fie! for shame!"
    Their cheeks and lips are red,
    And so, with kisses, kisses, kisses,
    They take the toll instead.

    Still follow, follow! across the hollow
    The tavern fronts the road.
    Whoa, now! all steady! the host is ready,—
    He knows the country mode!
    The irons are in the fire,
    The hissing flip is got;
    So pour and sip it, sip it, sip it,
    And sip it while 't is hot.

    Push back the tables, and from the stables
    Bring Tom, the fiddler, in;
    All take your places, and make your graces,
    And let the dance begin.
    The girls are beating time
    To hear the music sound;
    Now foot it, foot it, foot it, foot it,
    And swing your partners round.

    Last couple toward the left! all forward!
    Cotillons through, let 's wheel:
    First tune the fiddle, then down the middle
    In old Virginia Reel.
    Play Money Musk to close,
    Then take the "long chassé,"
    While in to supper, supper, supper,
    The landlord leads the way.

    The bells are ringing, the ostlers bringing
    The cutters up anew;
    The beasts are neighing; too long we 're staying,
    The night is half-way through.
    Wrap close the buffalo-robes,
    We 're all aboard once more;
    Now jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle,
    Away from the tavern-door.

    So follow, follow, by hill and hollow,
    And swiftly homeward glide.
    What midnight splendor! how warm and tender
    The maiden by your side!
    The sleighs drop far apart,
    Her words are soft and low;
    Now, if you love her, love her, love her,
    'T is safe to tell her so.

  10. New England Woods

    by Amos Russel Wells

    New England woods are fair of face,
    And warm with tender, homely grace,
    Not vast with tropic mystery,
    Nor scant with arctic poverty,
    But fragrant with familiar balm,
    And happy in a household calm.

    And such O land of shining star
    Hitched to a cart! thy poets are,
    So wonted to the common ways
    Of level nights and busy days,
    Yet painting hackneyed toll and ease
    With glories of the Pleiades.

    For Bryant is an aged oak,
    Beloved of Time, and sober folk;
    And Whittler, a hickory,
    The workman's and the children's tree;
    And Lowell is a maple decked
    With autumn splendor circumspect.

    Clear Longfellow's an elm benign,
    With fluent grace in every line
    And Holmes, the cheerful birch intent;
    On frankest, whitest merriment
    While Emerson's high councils rise;
    A pine, communing with the skies.

  11. Wintergreen

    by Amos Russel Wells

    New England woods are softly fair,
    And many marvels gather there—
    The flaming hush the soaring pine,
    The shining birch, the swinging vine;
    But lord of all the varied scene
    I rank the lowly wintergreen.

    Its glossy little leaves are found
    Close creeping on the humble ground,
    But all the sweetness of the wood,
    Its fragrant quaintness firm and good,
    Its charms that dazzle and enchant,
    Are centred in the modest plant.

    Those thick and lustrous leaves contain
    The essence of this dear domain,
    Its flavor, kindly, pungent, keen,
    The homely taste of wintergreen,
    Its flower a Puritanic white,
    Its berry scarlet for delight.

    How sturdily it lifts its head
    And shows its glowing green and red!
    How through the winter cold and hare
    It still is fragrant, fresh, and fair,
    And, like its own New England, knows
    A grace that shines in deepest snows!

  12. A Remembrance

    by Bliss Carman

    Here in lovely New England
    When summer is come, a sea-turn
    Flutters a page of remembrance
    In the volume of long ago.

    Soft is the wind over Grand Pré,
    Stirring the heads of the grasses,
    Sweet is the breath of the orchards
    White with their apple-blow.

    There at their infinite business
    Of measuring time forever,
    Murmuring songs of the sea,
    The great tides come and go.

    Over the dikes and the uplands
    Wander the great cloud shadows,
    Strange as the passing of sorrow,
    Beautiful, solemn, and slow.

    For, spreading her old enchantment
    Of tender ineffable wonder,
    Summer is there in the Northland!
    How should my heart not know?

  13. My Lost Youth

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Often I think of the beautiful town
    That is seated by the sea;
    Often in thought go up and down
    The pleasant streets of that dear old town,
    And my youth comes back to me.
    And a verse of a Lapland song
    Is haunting my memory still:
    "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    I can see the shadowy lines of its trees,
    And catch, in sudden gleams,
    The sheen of the far-surrounding seas,
    And islands that were the Hesperides
    Of all my boyish dreams.
    And the burden of that old song,
    It murmurs and whispers still:
    "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    I remember the black wharves and the slips,
    And the sea-tides tossing free;
    And Spanish sailors with bearded lips,
    And the beauty and mystery of the ships,
    And the magic of the sea.
    And the voice of that wayward song
    Is singing and saying still:
    "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    I remember the bulwarks by the shore,
    And the fort upon the hill;
    The sunrise gun, with its hollow roar,
    The drum-beat repeated o'er and o'er,
    And the bugle wild and shrill.
    And the music of that old song
    Throbs in my memory still:
    "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    I remember the sea-fight far away,
    How it thundered o'er the tide!
    And the dead captains, as they lay
    In their graves, o'erlooking the tranquil bay,
    Where they in battle died.
    And the sound of that mournful song
    Goes through me with a thrill:
    "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    I can see the breezy dome of groves,
    The shadows of Deering's Woods;
    And the friendships old and the early loves
    Come back with a Sabbath sound, as of doves
    In quiet neighborhoods.
    And the verse of that sweet old song,
    It flutters and murmurs still:
    "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    I remember the gleams and glooms that dart
    Across the school-boy's brain;
    The song and the silence in the heart,
    That in part are prophecies, and in part
    Are longings wild and vain.
    And the voice of that fitful song
    Sings on, and is never still:
    "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    There are things of which I may not speak;
    There are dreams that cannot die;
    There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak,
    And bring a pallor into the cheek,
    And a mist before the eye.
    And the words of that fatal song
    Come over me like a chill:
    "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    Strange to me now are the forms I meet
    When I visit the dear old town;
    But the native air is pure and sweet,
    And the trees that o'ershadow each well-known street,
    As they balance up and down,
    Are singing the beautiful song,
    Are sighing and whispering still:
    "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    And Deering's Woods are fresh and fair,
    And with joy that is almost pain
    My heart goes back to wander there,
    And among the dreams of the days that were,
    I find my lost youth again.
    And the strange and beautiful song,
    The groves are repeating it still:
    "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

  14. The Yankee Boy

    by John Pierpont

    The Yankee boy, before he’s sent to school,
    Well knows the mysteries of that magic tool,
    The pocket-knife. To that his wistful eye
    Turns, while he hears his mother’s lullaby;
    His hoarded cents he gladly gives to get it,
    Then leaves no stone unturned till he can whet it;
    And in the education of the lad
    No little part that implement hath had;
    His pocket-knife to the young whittler brings
    A growing knowledge of material things.

    Projectiles, music, and the sculptor’s art,
    His chestnut whistle and his shingle dart,
    His elder pop-gun with its hickory rod,
    Its sharp explosion and rebounding wad,
    His corn-stalk fiddle, and the deeper tone
    That murmurs from his pumpkin-stalk trombone,
    Conspire to teach the boy. To these succeed
    His bow, his arrow of a feathered reed,
    His wind-mill, raised the passing breeze to win,
    His water-wheel, that turns upon a pin;
    Or, if his father lives upon the shore,
    You’ll see his ship, “beam ends upon the floor,”
    Full rigged, with raking masts, and timbers stanch,
    And waiting, near the wash-tub, for a launch.

    Thus, by his genius and his jack-knife driven,
    Ere long he’ll solve you any problem given;
    Make any jim-crack, musical or mute,
    A plow, a couch, an organ, or a flute;
    Make you a locomotive or a clock,
    Cut a canal, or build a floating-dock,
    Or lead forth Beauty from a marble block;
    Make any thing, in short, for sea or shore,
    From a child’s rattle to a seventy-four;
    Make it, said I?—Aye, when he undertakes it,
    He’ll make the thing and the machine that makes it.

    And when the thing is made, whether it be
    To move on earth, in air, or on the sea,
    Whether on water, o’er the waves to glide,
    Or, upon land to roll, revolve, or slide,
    Whether to whirl or jar, to strike or ring,
    Whether it be a piston or a spring,
    Wheel, pulley, tube sonorous, wood or brass,
    The thing designed shall surely come to pass;
    For, when his hand’s upon it, you may know
    That there’s go in it, and he’ll make it go.

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