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A Hero

Helen Leah Reed 1864 (Saint John, ) – 1926 (Cambridge, Massachusetts,)

Like many another I have crossed
Oftener than once the broad Atlantic,
And - feeling qualms when tempest-tossed,
Have shuddered at the waves gigantic,
Fearing that really nevermore
I'd find myself again ashore.

Then when - upset - and scarce awake,
In moments of perturbed reflection,
My wandering thoughts would slowly take
Time and again the same direction.
I'd think of that adventurous man,
Who crossed the sea - first of my clan.

'Tis not for me to hope to find
Upon my family tree's broad branches
Ancestors wholly to my mind;
I know that I am taking chances
In digging them up from the past
To deck this hardy tree at last.

Indeed I would not waste my breath,
And even less my ink and paper,
To prove from Queen Elizabeth
Is my descent (some cut this caper),
Nor in King Alfred root my tree -
Here's jocund genealogy.

A Governor or two, of course, -
Or even a Colonial preacher
I'd not despise, - nor yet perforce
A good Selectman, stern of feature,
Provided they came early here.
Such ancestors to me are dear.

Yet of them all the man I hold
A mighty hero - none seems greater -
Is he - that honest man and bold -
Whether Psalm-singer, or bear-baiter,
First of my name to reach the strand,
Of this almost unpeopled land.

He may have been of high estate,
He may have been a simple yeoman,
Undaunted by an adverse fate,
Brave was he as the bravest Roman.
At naught he quailed, his heart was stout,
When he for the New World set out.

Compared with mine - a little skiff
His boat was, on the untracked ocean,
Comforts were scarce, and breezes stiff -
No luxuries, - though I've a notion
Billows were just as high as now,
While Danger sat upon the prow.

Just where would be his landing-place.
He hardly knew when waves he tossed on
While my woes at sea efface
By merely murmuring, "Home is Boston."
Yet he had left his all behind
In the new world his all to find.

"R-E-E-D" - "E-I" - "E-A,"
Just how we spell it need not matter.
The name we honor here today
Each clan may claim with equal clatter
British, euphonious, clear and short,
Rede me a name of better sort!

Read at a meeting of a Genealogical Society.

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Submitted on August 03, 2020

Modified on March 05, 2023

2:04 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 2,091
Words 412
Stanzas 11
Stanza Lengths 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 1

Helen Leah Reed

Helen Leah Reed American teacher and author; a graduate of Radcliffe College: known for her children's books, which were entertaining as well as educative, the best remembered being her Brenda series of novels. more…

All Helen Leah Reed poems | Helen Leah Reed Books

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