Gateway to the Classics: Historic Poems and Ballads by Rupert S. Holland
Historic Poems and Ballads by  Rupert S. Holland

Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers

A LITTLE band of English men and women, who had left their homes because of religious persecution, sailed from Southampton, in England, on August 15, 1620. They had two vessels, the Mayflower and the Speedwell. The Speedwell soon proved unseaworthy and had to put back to Plymouth for repairs, while twelve of her thirty voyagers were added to the ninety who were already on board the Mayflower.

Nine weeks later land was sighted, and on the evening of November 19, 1620, the pilgrims brought their ship into what came to be known as Cape Cod harbor. Two days later the Mayflower dropped anchor off what is now Provincetown, which is the extreme point of Cape Cod, and a band of sixteen men, headed by Captain Miles Standish, landed to explore the shore. The first actual settlement was made a month later, on December 21, 1620, at Plymouth, a more protected harbor than that of Provincetown.

This desire of the Pilgrims for a place where they might be free to worship God as they pleased was the cause of the founding of the first colony in New England.

Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers

by Felicia Dorothea Hemans

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

Amid 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.

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