Where beach plums waxen green and swell,
‘Till rich October ripes them well,
And Cape Cod Bay her sand dunes reach,
Heaps high along White Horse Beach,
Far back in thick old Plymouth fogs,
Love blossomed as flowers bloom in bogs.
But not as plums were good to eat,
In Plum Glen where lovers meet—
Where Helen keeps with Roland tryst,
And lips have touched in love and kissed,
For it was August, and the growth
Of fruit and love lacked much in both.
The fruit lacked purple mellowness,
And love lacked cleric hands to bless;
For Helen’s father would not bear
To give his child to Roland’s care,
And Helen could not bear to part
With all there was in her one heart.
And so she told her father so;
And every evening she would go
And meet with Roland on this road
Tradition tells Myles Standish trode;
This sunken road that used to run
Between two homes, once meant for one.
Where the Alabama cot now stands,
The dune is one sharp ridge of sands
Protected by the tops and roots
Of beach-peas, grasses and the shoots
Of barberry bushes, and woodbine,
And thickets all along the line.
Below your feet, a deep down dell
Is red with roses, sparrows dwell
Secure on ground and bough;
Eludes the searcher’s half day quest.
Poor Helen’s home was near this spot,
Between the neighboring pond and cot.
And this is Beach Plum Glen! The sea
Sounds in the dell incessantly;
One bounds this rugged height out o’er
The sparrows feed along the shore,
And towards the Gurnet’s double light
The White Horse Beach is full in sight.
The Twenty-fourth of August dawns,
‘Twas young in ages long agone,
And Helen’s love was young and strong,
And life is love and love is long;
Young Roland must to sea again
And meets bride Helen in the glen.
His jaunty cap and sailor dress,
His bearing high, his manliness,
Were much to lose and sail from shore,
Poor Helen thinks, “Forevermore.”
And she must bear her father’s pride,
Her own loved Roland far awide.
She warns her father yet again,
That he will grieve, but warns in vain;
The night shuts down and it is dark,
The midnight comes; the parents hark;
They listened once before to-night
And thought they heard before; were right.
Her bed had not been occupied,
The father could not find the bride;
The white horse was not in stall,
The saddle, bridle gone and all.
He hurries, shouting, to the beach;
The white horse swims her out of reach.
“Come back, my daughter!” loud he cries;
“I will no more oppose!”—but dies
The cry upon the sounding sea;
The white horse moves out steadily;
And Helen nevermore returns,
Nor beacon light for Roland burns.
Where Beehive Cottage stands beside
The road that leads down to the tide,
But out to sea, a massive block
Has long been called “The White Horse
The horse that trusted Helen’s hand
Fled here and saw no more the land.
But love will let no loves die;
And oft in all these years gone by,
Upon her steed, and late at e’en,
Bride Helen on this rock is seen
Looking for Roland through the mist
Until he joins her keeping tryst.
TIMOTHY OTIS PAINE