Miles Standish [1584 - 1656] by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet


Miles Standish was a little man, a soldier from his youth,
He said he'd fought the Spaniards and I think he told the truth,
For he could fire a musketoon and he could build a fort
And the Pilgrims all admired him, though he wasn't quite their sort.

Tom Morton was a merry man and liked a merry frolic,
He said, "These long-nosed Pilgrims give an honest heart the colic!"
He built a place called Merry Mount to serve his merry ends
And danced around a Maypole with a lot of rowdy friends.

The Pilgrims were indignant, for they didn't like his game,
They said his merry Maypole was an idol and a shame,
They vowed that it was scandalous to dance to such a tune,
So they ordered out Miles Standish, with his fav'rite musketoon.

"Ho,ho!" laughed Morton, merrily, "'Tis only Captain Shrimp!"
"Hew down yon idol!" Standish roared and made him feel quite limp
For they hewed the pretty Maypole down, in spite of all his cries,
And chopped it into kindling wood before his very eyes.

They sent him back to England and they told him to stay there.
--They didn't like those gentlemen with perfume in their hair.
--They didn't like wild gentlemen with mischief in their port.
But they always liked Miles Standish, though he wasn't quite their sort.

He lived with them and fought for them and drove their foes away,
A bold Cock-robin of a man whom nothing could dismay,
And, when he died, they mourned him from the bottom of their hearts.
For it isn't where your inches stop. It's where your courage starts.

Benet, Rosemary and Stephen Vincent. A Book of Americans. NY: Holt, 1961.
Source: http://inquiryunlimited.org/lit/poetry/ghistpoems1.html#F1

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