Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Good In-Land Town (poem)

A Good In-Land Town
       Read to the North Andover Selectmen on June 18, 2018

In August 1702, Judge Samuel Sewall wrote about his travels
to Andover – what is current day North Andover –  in his diary:
   “…rid with Mr. Woodhouse and Smith to Andover,
    a good In-land Town, and of a good Prospect.”

A good in-land town,
she shares her name with her British twin.
But no ruler here wears the crown,
for we are home of the citizen king.
Her citizens, now or years ago,
famous or not yet so,
share in her renown.

From strands of bell, bronze and maker,
from mother, muse and meter,
from wool and woven time,
from service made sublime,
from these we make our rhyme.

A.B. the poet, you know her name,
walked to the meetinghouse,
that first simple frame.
With words, her soul did search,
and thus made poetry her church.
Simon, the well-known man,
the Mass Bay governor, was her spouse.
Yet today, the greater fame, Anne commands.

In 1806, Revere and Son poured the bell.
Lifted high in the fourth steeple by Captains Johnson and Stevens,
in the new fifth meetinghouse soon it would dwell.
When the church was the town, it called from its tower.
These tones still carry over tree, town and common,
but for all people now, it keeps the same hours.

The 19th century mills were cut – whole cloth –
        from New England’s ingenious habit and spirit.
But it was the men of North Andover who made the mills,
        with Davis and Furber as the ratchet and sprocket.
In this yarn about wool,
        from the corner of Water and High Streets,
their shop sent machines to weave their twill
        to every state, and to the world.
In the rhythm and thrum of the mills,
        these men were the heartbeat.

To America and to the world,
women and men from this town went forth to serve.
Women and men heard freedom’s word.
They saw a common foe and risked their lives to fight it.
They saw a wrong and tried to right it.
And those who paid with limb or life,
their families and townspeople still observe.
What these men and women gave, may we honor it.

In a good in-land town,
history is not done,
no final bell has rung,
her story is still young.
Time offers more renown.

Those who serve the town,
in public place or private space,
serve it well if one must tell,
when History and common good are the guide.
Then we may go on to say
that in a good in-land town
and in America today,
the voice of the citizen has not died.

June 2018  North Andover, Mass.
Read at the North Andover Selectmen's meeting, June 18, 2018

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