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Friday, November 20, 2015

Poetry Friday--"The Pilgrims Came"

"The First Thanksgiving, 1621" by Jean-Leon Gerome Ferris, courtesy The Athenaeum.

Right up there with the turkey as a symbol of the Thanksgiving holiday are the Pilgrims. Here's an old children's poem that appears in Our Holidays in Poetry, compiled by Mildred P. Harrington and Josephine H. Thomas [808.81 HAR]. The book was published in 1929, and the poem was originally published in 1919:
The Pilgrims Came
by Annette Wynne

The Pilgrims came across the sea,
And never thought of you and me;
And yet it's very strange the way
We think of them Thanksgiving Day.

We tell their story old and true
Of how they sailed across the blue,
And found a new land to be free
And built their homes quite near the sea.

Every child knows well the tale
Of how they bravely turned the sail,
And journeyed many a day and night,
To worship God as they thought right.

The people think that they were sad,
And grave; I'm sure that they were glad--
They made Thanksgiving Day--that's fun--
We thank the Pilgrims, every one!

What a highly romanticized tale we've woven about the Pilgrims! However, the real story is somewhat less appealing. Ric Burns, brother of Ken, and a documentary film-maker himself, visited the studio of "On Point" at WBUR in Boston to tell listeners what he learned had really happened. You can listen to the complete segment below:

Burns' documentary film The Pilgrims, will be shown on PBS next week.

Visit Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for today's Poetry Friday Round-Up.


  1. I'm looking forward to seeing The Pilgrims on PBS, Diane - thanks for the reminder and the link. Don't you love how the poem says the romanticized story is true? Of course, it was written in 1919, just after WWI, and amid the influenza pandemic, so people longed for something cheery. Besides, "old and true" rhymes with "across the blue," right? "Olld and fake" wouldn't quite do, not unless they sailed "across a lake." :-)
    Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Rhyme will force you into some phrasing odd!