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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Pilgrims

By John Boyle O’Reilly (1844–1890)

[From the Poem read at the Dedication of the Monument to the Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth, Mass., 1 August, 1889.]

HERE, where the shore was rugged as the waves,

Where frozen nature dumb and leafless lay,

And no rich meadows bade the Pilgrims stay,

Was spread the symbol of the life that saves:

To conquer first the outer things; to make

Their own advantage, unallied, unbound;

Their blood the mortar, building from the ground;

Their care the statutes, making all anew;

To learn to trust the many, not the few;

To bend the mind to discipline; to break

The bonds of old convention, and forget

The claims and barriers of class; to face

A desert land, a strange and hostile race,

And conquer both to friendship by the debt

That nature pays to justice, love, and toil.

Here, on this rock, and on this sterile soil,

Began the kingdom not of kings, but men;

Began the making of the world again.

Here centuries sank, and from the hither brink

A new world reached and raised an old-world link,

When English hands, by wider vision taught,

Threw down the feudal bars the Normans brought,

And here revived, in spite of sword and stake,

Their ancient freedom of the Wapentake.

Here struck the seed—the Pilgrims’ roofless town,

Where equal rights and equal bonds were set.

Where all the people equal-franchised met;

Where doom was writ of privilege and crown;

Where human breath blew all the idols down;

Where crests were naught, where vulture flags were furled,

And common men began to own the world!