James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

March 1

Robinson of Leyden

By Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)

  • The Reverend John Robinson, a regularly ordained clergyman of the Church of England, was suspended by his Bishop for Puritanism, and subsequently settled in Leyden in the Netherlands. There he became pastor of the English Separatists’ Church from which came a number of the families who emigrated from Southampton in the Mayflower, landing at Plymouth, Mass. He died March 1, 1625.

  • HE sleeps not here; in hope and prayer

    His wandering flock had gone before,

    But he, the shepherd, might not share

    Their sorrows on the wintry shore.

    Before the Speedwell’s anchor swung,

    Ere yet the Mayflower’s sail was spread,

    While round his feet the Pilgrims clung,

    The pastor spake, and thus he said:—

    “Men, brethern, sisters, children dear!

    God calls you hence from over sea;

    Ye may not build by Haerlem Meer,

    Nor yet along the Zuyder-Zee.

    “Ye go to bear the saving word

    To tribes unnamed and shores untrod

    Heed well the lessons ye have heard

    From those old teachers taught of God.

    “Yet think not unto them was lent

    All light for all the coming days,

    And Heaven’s eternal wisdom spent

    In making straight the ancient ways:

    “The living fountain overflows

    For every flock, for every lamb,

    Nor heeds, though angry creeds oppose

    With Luther’s dike or Calvin’s dam.”

    He spake: with lingering, long embrace,

    With tears of love and partings fond,

    They floated down the creeping Maas,

    Along the isle of Ysselmond.

    They passed the frowning towers of Briel,

    The “Hook of Holland’s” shelf of sand,

    And grated soon with lifting keel

    The sullen shores of Fatherland.

    No home for these!—too well they knew

    The mitred king behind the throne;—

    The sails were set, the pennons flew,

    And westward ho! for worlds unknown.

    —And these were they who gave us birth,

    The Pilgrims of the sunset wave,

    Who won for us this virgin earth,

    And freedom with the soil they gave.

    The pastor slumbers by the Rhine,—

    In alien earth the exiles lie,—

    Their nameless graves our holiest shrine,

    His words our noblest battle-cry!

    Still cry them, and the world shall hear,

    Ye dwellers by the storm-swept sea!

    Ye have not built by Haerlem Meer,

    Nor on the land-locked Zuyder-Zee!