This is an Occasional Poem, written to commemorate the 375th Anniversary of Dedham, Massachusetts, founded in 1636 under the name Contentment.


On a voyage out to the eastern sea,
the river Charles chances upon a place
where Contentment finds time for watery thanks;
a place that has in Time’s dance come to be
a harbor of neighbor’s love and slower pace,
where past and future meet upon its banks.

Come, walk these streets, these paths of Dedham town –
where history walks hand in hand with tomorrow.
This place where the noisy brood of barnyard
Has given way to commerce’s gold crown,
Where men and women leave behind sorrow
To join in pleasures of work, soft or hard.

Has there ever been a man so alone
who has never once thought or felt or said
“This is my place, my home, my spot on Earth -
where family roots took hold as stars shone,
where street names are found in fields of the dead.
This is where my people knew me since birth.”

History found a place to lay its head,
onto this common hearth and shire so fair,
where blood now flows through our brethren’s true veins;
so three and three fourths centuries are read.
As each child born either heiress or heir
to more wealth than any mere bank contains.

So hear these links to our storied lives past
know Washington slept here as he traveled,
and that the torch of liberty was lit
by those whose hope for the future was vast.
Avery Oak lives on as Council’s gavel
So wisdom and choice are proclaimed with it.

From Boston to the border of Rhode Island,
from Sixteen Thirty Six until today,
from Peanut Butter Valley to Legacy Place;
village sites from Oakdale to the great highlands
will each have something important to say
about our love for this, our time and place.

Lincoln lunched here, spoke to friend and foe alike,
and America’s first canal, Mother Brook
was dug to connect the looping river.
We've had criminals here, and worker’s strikes,
Oldest house of timber frame in the book,
And spirits and spooks to make us shiver.

Moments of our lives have marked history –
Phoenix House rose from ashes of flame,
Ames Tavern gave us the first almanac,
the Sacco and Venzetti mystery
where anarchists shouldered all of the blame,
and progress rode in on a railroad track.

Dedham granite – a warm, rosy-hued stone
has made cathedrals and libraries too.
Pottery made here is cherished world wide,
the rabbit design is all ours alone.
There is nothing we cannot think or do
when we share what we have deep down inside.

What treasures we strive to give and perceive,
what marks upon Time’s book do we inscribe –
how have we left this place better than found?
What we give is equal to what’s received,
and we have grown homes out of scattered tribes,
carving community from mere green ground.

So here we stand, from many, forming one.
Neighbors, merchants, students, all one big clan
whether borne, or become, we are today
one town, under the glow of one bright sun,
from the smallest girl to the oldest man
we celebrate our home’s triumphant day!

©2014 Christopher ReilleyI would love to know what you thought about this piece. Please consider leaving a comment.

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