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

December 21

The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers in New England

By Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1793–1835)

  • (December 21, 1620)
  • “Look now abroad—another race has filled
  • Those populous borders—wide the wood recedes,
  • And towns shoot up, and fertile realms are tilled;
  • The land is full of harvests and green meads.”
  • Bryant

  • THE BREAKING waves dashed high,

    On a stern and rock-bound coast,

    And the woods against a stormy sky

    Their giant branches tossed;

    And the heavy night hung dark,

    The hills and waters o’er,

    When a band of exiles moored 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 soared

    From his nest by the white wave’s foam;

    And the rocking pines of the forest roared—

    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 trod.

    They have left unstained what there they found—

    Freedom to worship God.