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Sunday, October 04, 2009

IPSWICH TOWN

Sometimes when I'm researching my ancestors on GoogleBooks
I run across some of the poetry that was popular in the 19th
century. There were quite a few local New England poets who
are largely unknown today. One of them is James Appleton
Morgan, whose poem Ipswich Town I found in the Essex
Antiquarian and enjoyed how he used the local history and
folklore in writing it:



IPSWICH TOWN.

BY JAMES APPLETON MORGAN.

I love to think of old Ipswich town,—
Old Ipswich town in the east countree,—
Whence on the tide you can float down
Through long salt grass to the wailing sea
Where the Mayflower drifted off the bar,
Seaworn and weary, long years ago,
And dared not enter, but sailed away
Till she landed her boat in Plymouth bay

I love to think of old Ipswich town,
Where Whitefield preached in the church on the
hill,
Driving out the devil until he leaped down
From the steeple's top, where they show you still,
Imbedded deep in the solid rock,
The indelible print of his cloven hoof,
And tell you the devil has never shown
Face or hoof since that day in the honest town

I love to think of old Ipswich town,
Where they shut up the witches until the day
When they should be roasted so thoroughly brown
In Salem village twelve miles away.
They've moved it off for a stable now,
But there are the holes where the stout jail stood,
And at night, they say, that over the holes
You can see the ghost of Goody Coles

I love to think of old Ipswich town,
That house to your right a rod or more,
Where the stern old elm trees seem to frown
If you peer too hard through the open door,
Sheltered the regicide judges three,
When the royal sheriffs were after them,
And a queer old villager once I met
Who says in the cellar they're living yet.

I love to think of old Ipswich town,
Harry Main, you have heard the tale, lived there,
He blasphemed God so they put him down
With an iron shovel at Ipswich bar.
They chained him there for a thousand years,
As the sea rolls up to shovel it back;
So when the sea cries the goodwives say,
"Harry Main growls at his work today."

I love to think of old Ipswich town;
There's a graveyard upon the old High street,
Where generations are looking down
On the one that is toiling at their feet;
Where the stones stand shoulder to shoulder like
troops,
Drawn up to receive a cavalry charge.
And graves have been dug in graves till the sod
Is the mound of good men gone to God.

I love to think of old Ipswich town,—
Old Ipswich town in the east countree,—
Whence on the tide you can float down
Through the long salt grass to the wailing sea,
And lie all day on the glassy beach,
And learn the lesson the green waves teach,
Till at sunset, from surf and seaweed brown,
You are pulling back to Ipswich town.

2 comments:

Heather Rojo said...

Your poem "Ipswich" town got me to thinking about my Ipswich ancestors, and inspired my latest post about Jabez Treadwell. Thanks so much!

Bill West said...

Glad you liked it, Heather!