Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Elder Faunce at Plymouth Rock

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

New England: Plymouth, Mass.

Elder Faunce at Plymouth Rock

By Caroline Frances Orne (1818–1905)


AN OLD, old man!

His hair is white as snow,

His feeble footsteps slow,

And the light in his eyes grown dim.

An old, old man!

Yet they bow with reverence low,

With respect they wait on him.

They gather to his side,

And in his way they throng:

Greet him with love and pride

The aged and the young.

And the children leave their play

As he passes on his way,

And afar off they follow

This old, old man.

He has gone down to the rock

That is lying by the shore;

He hath silent sate him down;

And the young man, whose strong arm

Hath shielded him from harm,

Will not disturb the dream

That his spirit hovers o’er;

And the gathered throng beside him

Group them on the shore.

Long he sits in silence,

The old, old man;

While the waves with silvery reach

Go curling up the beach,

Or dash against the rocks in spray,—

The huge rocks bedded deep

At the base of the proud steep,

Where the green ridge of Manomet

Grandly rises far away.

All the air is still,

And every distant hill

Its summit veils in soft, misty blue;

Across the wide-spread bay,

Five-and-twenty miles away,

The white cliffs of Cape Cod hang in air,

As some mysterious hand,

Or enchanter’s lifted wand,

Had suspended them, and charmed them there;

And o’er all the waters wide,

And the hills in summer pride,

And the islands in the bay that rise,

And over Saquish-head

And the Gurnet’s breakers dread,

The mild, soft sunlight like a blessing lies.

The old man’s eyes grow bright

With the light of bygone days;

His voice is strong and clear,

His form no more is bowed,

He stands erect and proud,

And, dashing from his eye the indignant tear,

He turns him to the crowd that wait expectant near,

And reverent on him gaze;

For they know that he has walked

In all the Pilgrim ways.

“Mark it well!” he cries,

“Mark it well!

This rock on which we stand:

For here the honored feet

Of our Fathers’ exiled band

Pressed the land;

And not the wide, wide world,

Not either hemisphere,

Has a spot in its domain

To freedom half so dear.”