A very long time ago, when I was in junior high in Vermont, we read (and I believe had to learn) a poem called The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers in New England by Felicia D. Hemans.
It has ten stanzas; the first two are:
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.
Since Vermont is not on the coast, my picture of the Eastern seaboard was a “stern and rock-bound coast.” Imagine my surprise when we moved to Connecticut and lived a block from Long Island Sound where the beach was filled with sand, shells and stones, but no high cliffs with waves pounding against them. Sometimes it pays to get out of our own little corner and see a broader view of the world. California beaches were a far cry from a ”wild New England shore,” but that’s a whole other story.
Still, all these years later, this poem is as much a part of Thanksgiving, in my mind, as is turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce, jellied of course.
The poem’s last stanza exemplifies why this country was founded.
Ay, call it holy ground,
The soil where first they trod;
They have left unstained what there they found, --
Freedom to worship God.
I wish all of you a Thanksgiving that includes food, friends, family and perhaps a moment to reflect on our country’s past and future and the liberties we hold most dear.
Happy Thanksgiving to you!
Quote of the Day: 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. Felicia D. Hemans