Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Pilgrim Fathers

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

New England: Plymouth, Mass.

The Pilgrim Fathers

By John Pierpont (1785–1866)

THE PILGRIM fathers,—where are they?

The waves that brought them o’er

Still roll in the bay, and throw their spray

As they break along the shore:

Still roll in the bay, as they rolled that day,

When the May-Flower moored below,

When the sea around was black with storms,

And white the shore with snow.

The mists, that wrapped the pilgrim’s sleep,

Still brood upon the tide;

And his rocks yet keep their watch by the deep,

To stay its waves of pride.

But the snow-white sail, that he gave to the gale,

When the heavens looked dark, is gone;

As an angel’s wing, through an opening cloud,

Is seen, and then withdrawn.

The pilgrim exile—sainted name!—

The hill, whose icy brow

Rejoiced, when he came, in the morning’s flame,

In the morning’s flame burns now.

And the moon’s cold light, as it lay that night

On the hillside and the sea,

Still lies where he laid his houseless head;—

But the pilgrim—where is he?

The pilgrim fathers are at rest:

When Summer ’s throned on high,

And the world’s warm breast is in verdure dressed,

Go, stand on the hill where they lie.

The earliest ray of the golden day

On that hallowed spot is cast;

And the evening sun, as he leaves the world,

Looks kindly on that spot last.

The pilgrim spirit has not fled:

It walks in noon’s broad light;

And it watches the bed of the glorious dead,

With the holy stars, by night.

It watches the bed of the brave who have bled,

And shall guard this ice-bound shore,

Till the waves of the bay, where the May-Flower lay,

Shall foam and freeze no more.