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

New England: Plymouth, Mass.

The Mayflowers

By John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

  • The trailing arbutus, or mayflower, grows abundantly in the vicinity of Plymouth, and was the first flower that greeted the Pilgrims after their fearful winter.

  • SAD Mayflower! watched by winter stars,

    And nursed by winter gales,

    With petals of the sleeted spars,

    And leaves of frozen sails!

    What had she in those dreary hours,

    Within her ice-rimmed bay,

    In common with the wild-wood flowers,

    The first sweet smiles of May?

    Yet, “God be praised!” the Pilgrim said,

    Who saw the blossoms peer

    Above the brown leaves, dry and dead,

    “Behold our Mayflower here!”

    “God wills it: here our rest shall be,

    Our years of wandering o’er,

    For us the Mayflower of the sea

    Shall spread her sails no more.”

    O sacred flowers of faith and hope,

    As sweetly now as then

    Ye bloom on many a birchen slope,

    In many a pine-dark glen.

    Behind the sea-wall’s rugged length,

    Unchanged, your leaves unfold,

    Like love behind the manly strength

    Of the brave hearts of old.

    So live the fathers in their sons,

    Their sturdy faith be ours,

    And ours the love that overruns

    Its rocky strength with flowers.

    The Pilgrim’s wild and wintry day

    Its shadow round us draws;

    The Mayflower of his stormy bay,

    Our Freedom’s struggling cause.

    But warmer suns erelong shall bring

    To life the frozen sod;

    And, through dead leaves of hope, shall spring

    Afresh the flowers of God!