David Johnson

David JohnsonDAVID JOHNSON (1824-1906) followed in the footsteps of his mentor, Alonzo Lewis, and became Lynn's leading intellectual in the second half of the nineteenth century. Like Lewis, Johnson was active in civic affairs, and he wrote history, Sketches of Lynn published in 1880, and poetry, Commemorative Poems published in 1890. Johnson's High Rock poems were written fifty years apart. The first describes High Rock as a window to heaven and the second includes the traditional survey of the Jewels of Lynn: Saugus, Lynnfield, Nahant, and Swampscott, four neighboring towns once part of Lynn.

High Rock
(Written in Youth)


I love to stand upon thy brow,
   When all around is hushed to sleep;
When not a voice nor sound is heard,
   Save the low murmur of the deep.

When stars with radiant beauty shine,
   And moonbeams shed their silvery light;
While ocean sparkles in the rays,
   Reflected by the queen of the night.

When golden clouds lie in the west,
   At close of day, at brink of even.
Lifting on high their tow'ring heads,
   O'er half the canopy of heaven.

No pencil could the beauties trace
   Though guided by a master's hand
Nor painter paint the gorgeous scene
   Which far outvies the fairy land.

High Rock
(Fifty Years Later)



Favored of Fortune, lovely Lynn,
   Girt with her gem-emblazoned shore,
Whose murmur soothes the city's din,
   We prize thee more and more.

Thy forest hills in summer's calm
   Send their soft notes on zephyrs' wings;
And every breeze swells nature's psalm,
   And every bird that sings.

And standing near thee, Ancient Rock,
   How vast the volume of thy lore!
How dost thy age-crowned grandeur mock
   The baubles men count o'er


Her other jewels round thee lie,
   Dear as before they left the home;
Lynnfield and Saugus still are nigh,
   And near the ocean's foam,

Nahant and Swampscott see thy form,
   And their brave sons their mother greet,
And see, through mists and gathering storm,
   Thee on thy queenly seat.

The grandeur of thy lofty view,
   What scores the endless joy have felt
As Nature changed the old to new,
   And at her altar knelt.

What notes rang forth in summer air,
   When the famed "Tribe of Jesse" stood
On thy calm heights, while gathered there
   The thronging multitude


from: Commemorative Poems (Lynn: Thos. P. Nichols) 1893.