Monday, October 17, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Bicentennial Poems by Family Members

In 1976 even Disney World
was celebrating the Bicentennial! * 

Do you remember The Bicentennial year of 1976?  I was only fourteen, but it was a big celebration in my home state of Massachusetts, and the rest of the country seemed to be in on it, too.

There were several budding poets in my family that year.  I was cleaning out several files from the Wilkinson Family and I found these poems written around the country's Bicentennial Year.  I am posting these for both the weekly Amanuenis Monday blogger theme, and for Bill West's Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge, which you can read about at this link:

The first poem is by my grandmother, Bertha Roberts Wilkinson (1887-1990) She was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, England and came to Massachusetts in 1917.  She lived through World War II in Beverly, Massachusetts worrying about her home country, and then during the Bicentennial I'm sure she had conflicting feelings about America's relationship with England.  She was very proud to write this patriotic poem.

"Written for:
A Bicentennial Ball
Presented by the Long Beach Tenth Word Relief Society
Commemorating the 134th Birthday of the Relief Society
And the 200th Birthday of Our Country

Declaration of Independence
                       by Bertha Wilkinson

From tyranny and iron clad demand
The Pilgrims came and sought this land
Breaking soil, each building his homestead
Sowing and reaping grain for daily bread

Yet Mother England, her apron strings still tied
Her sons and daughters taxes now defied
Brave men who up to then this burden shared
Resolved that Independence must be declared

Let us honor these brave men
Who fought for freedom with sword and pen
And thank our God for this land of the free
That gives to each of us our liberty"

The second poem is from her son, my uncle Richard Albert Wilkinson.  He left Massachusetts in the 1950s and went out to Southern California, where he eventually settled in Long Beach.  He lives there still.  This poem, written about the same time as Grammy's poem, shows me how much he loved New England.  There are several patriotic themes here, too.  Both poems mention "sword and pen" which I find very interesting.  

"Springtime in New England
                        By Richard Wilkinson

‘Tis springtime in New England
At Plymouth Pilgrim’s shrine
Where settlers from the old country
Began your land and mine

‘Tis springtime in New Hampshire
The mountains and the hills
With over running rivers
And old decayed red mills

‘Tis springtime in the city
At Boston where brave men
Took the stand for liberty
And fought with sword and pen

‘Tis springtime on the Maine seacoast
Where flashing waters spray
And on the thousand lakes and streams
Where festive hamlets lay

‘Tis springtime in the Vermont woods
And outdoor woodsmen tap
The lusty towering maple tree
To get their fruitful sap

‘Tis springtime in the pasture
The cows are in the hay
And early in the morning
The farmer greets the day

‘Tis springtime in New England
And how each state does sheen
When nature with her artists brush
Daubs her realm with green."

*Disney World was rather new (it opened in late 1971) but we took our first big family vacation there during April vacation of 1976.  My Dad snapped this photograph during the Main Street Parade.

Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Heather, your Grammy and uncle's poems are beautiful. I agree with Bill that your writing talent has deep roots. I love the patriotic theme that seems to spill over into your uncle's poem. They are both very descriptive, hers does give me a sense of longing for her homeland and his a longing of his home in New England. Thanks for sharing this part of your history, Heather.


  2. Thanks for sharing these, Heather! As one who has struggled to write poetry myself,I'm in awe of such talent in the same family.