Whittier in Amesbury

A Song of Harvest

When the Amesbury and Salisbury Agricultural and Horticultural Society held the first in a series of Fairs, September 1858, Whittier entered some pears and won first prize on his Flemish Beauties and second prize on his Beurre de Capiaumonts.  The Fair included a religious service at the Congregational Church, and Whittier wrote a hymn to be sung there.  He was rewarded with an elegant fruit basket, for which he wrote the following thank-you letter:
“I value this testimonial all the more, that, coming from my immediate neighbors, it evinces the fact of mutual good feeling and regard. A token of approbation even from strangers is not unwelcome; but I place a higher estimate on that which assures me of the esteem of my everyday acquaintance, and that I have a place in the kind thought of ‘mine own people’.” (Woodwell 273)

A Song of Harvest

Whittier begins by describing the area before the arrival of the white settlers:

This day, two hundred years ago,
The Wild grape by the river’s side,
And tasteless groundnut trailing low,
The table of the woods supplied.

Unknown the apple’s red and gold,
The blushing tint of peach and pear;
The mirror of the Powow told
‘No tale of orchards ripe and rare.

Wild as the fruits he scorned to till,
These vales the idle Indian trod;
Nor knew the glad, creative skill,
The joy of him who toils with God.

Whittier thanks God for his “wise design” that has given them horticultural skills and joy in the autumn harvests.

Give fools their gold and knaves their power;
Let fortune’s bubble rise and fall;
Who sows a field, or trains a flower,
Or plants a tree, is more than all.

Whittier concludes with the idea that all who sow shall harvest, if not on earth then “at last in heaven.”

Full text of "A Song of Harvest "

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