Seth Pomeroy's Ride

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Seth Pomeroy's Ride: Northampton to Bunker Hill  (1911) 
by Katherine Tryon Shepherd-Smith


All honor to faithful Paul Revere,
Obedient to the signal near,
Hanging aloft in the old church tower,
When Destiny mated him with the hour.

Secure his fame! long embalmed in song
In the "Wayside Tales", tender and strong,
Though no one dreamed he would ride to renown
By Concord Bridge and Lexington town

But what of that hero, old and gray,
A hundred miles away from "The Bay"?
To whom there came in his meadow still,
The summons from distant Bunker Hill;

Who taking his hard-worked horse from the field,
Rode out to the east—the night his shield.
No beacon light gleamed over the way
Seth Pomeroy's lonely journey lay.

But the fearsome darkness hardly awes
This veteran of colonial wars,
Who at Cape Breton, Crown Point, "Fort Ti,"
Braved perils great, with spirits high.

For loyally had he served King George
And fashioned guns at his own burning forge
That latter defended the blood-traced line
Of Britain's camp in the northern pine.

Sturdy and brave as his knighted sires,
Who for centuries kept their altar fires
Alive and bright, in the castle grim
On Devon's coast—yet there came to him

In the frequent wars, a longing great
For home and children and true helpmate:
"I hope to see"—thus he wrote in pain,
"The pleasant face of my wife again."

So when the colonies ceased to know
Fear of the French, of the savage foe,
His warrior spirit sought release
In the helpful services of peace.

Long years at home in the meadow-town
Served to increase his well-known renown;
He was felt a power; his words had weight
In councils high, and affairs of state.

But Massachusetts when soon beset
By British tyranny, found him yet
Not too old, at near three score and ten,
To command her corps of militia men:

While the patriot farmers, young and old
On Northampton's honor-list enrolled,
Who at Boston's siege were later seen,
Seth Pomeroy trained on the village green.

A respite brief in his quite home
After Lexington—then the order to come
In all haste to threatened Bunker Hill,
With his home-made gun and his iron will.

So for Charleston he hurried away,
Horse and rider alert for the fray,
As when young he had often set forth
To bear England's standard far to the north.

Crossing the river, the meadows green,
Fringed with the willow trees' verdant screen,
Sloped gently beyond to Mount Holyoke's feet,
Where still the valley and upland meet.

Ere set of sun on that mid-June day
Seth Pomeroy's lengthening shadow lay
Beyond the Regicide, broad-street town,
Where the old Bay road winds up and down.

Mounting the crest of many a hill;
Through the villages, deathly still,
Those hoof-beats, echoing by the way
And ringing yet in our ears today.

Under the stars, all the summer night
He urged his good steed; and with daylight
Onward, far onward, on to the Bay,
Lay his brave course, that historic day.

A hundred miles, if a mile, he rode
After leaving his peaceful abode,
And only paused in his journey east
For briefest rest to man or beast;

Or at some inn to exchange his horse
For a fresh relay—But thinking it worse
A borrowed one risking, sturdily walked
All the last few miles, where danger stalked.

Then Putnam's greeting rang loud and clear:
"Pomeroy! Seth Pomeroy! You here?"
"A cannon would wake you in your grave!"
"Command these troops, the day to save!"

But it was not for glory he had come.
Like some old knight from his far-off home;
So chose in the ranks to use his skill,
And as volunteer fight, with might and will.

Higher rank and honors later came,
That added new luster to his name,
But none with haunt the memory still
Like his famous ride to Bunker Hill;

And fair Northampton may well take pride
In the lace he set by the country-side—
Her doughty General, old and gray,
When he covered that hundred miles to the bay.

Again by his own fireside he found
Rest after battle; relief from the sound
Of war's cruel din; its carnage and woe.
"Hereafter" he said, "let younger men go

"When the order comes, calling to arms"
But short the respite; Soon fresh alarms!
Then Washington's plea that he take command
On the Hudson's rugged, east-bound land.

There on distant Peekskill heights he died;
Where his body had long rested, beside
That beautiful river, from the north,
In whose brave defense he last went forth.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).