Listen, My Children, And You Shall Hear…

…of the Minute Man statue we hold so dear.
Not any one man is now alive
Who remembers back to 1775
Or the march of the British from Compo’s shore
To Danbury north, and its arsenal store
Or the days that followed, as they marched back south
And ran right into our militia’s mouth
The Battle of Compo Hill became quite a story
And Westport’s Minute Men earned all their glory
But seldom today do we give any thought
To all that our patriot ancestors wrought
We pass by the statue with ne’er a glance
For far more concerned are we with the chance
To sunbathe and swim, go boating and grill
Or enjoy yet another modern-day thrill
As the Minute Man stands, a sentinel silent
To a long-ago chapter so bloody and violent
But hark! For on Sunday we look back and praise
The remarkable heroes of those valiant days
(Click here for the details of all the events
Then read further this poem; ’twill make much more sense).

Minuteman statue 2

In 1906 Daniel Webster moved here
Though just 29, his sculpting talent was clear
Four years later he was asked (in part by the state)
To design, develop, cast and create
A sculpture to show a patriot kneeling
With flintlock in hand, and a strong steely feeling
‘Twould be placed near the beach, at the same exact spot
Where the Battle of Compo Hill had been fought.

Robert Penn Lambdin's

Robert Penn Lambdin’s “The British Landing at Cedar Point, April 25, 1777” oil painting is part of the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection.

Lewis P. Wakeman is a name from the past
He’s the model from whom the Minute Man has been cast
In bronze, where he sits on a mound of green grass
From his perch now he’s watched a full century pass
The Westport statue is one of just four
Saluting a Minute Man to remember that war
Feelings were stronger in the year 1910
The unveiling was quite an event way back then
A clambake, parade, music and speeches
Made June 17 a red-letter day at the beaches.

The Minute Man statue, around the time of his 1910 dedication.

The Minute Man statue, around the time of his 1910 dedication.

In the 10 decades since then, much has been seen
The Minute Man’s patina turned brown to green
Rain storms eroded the earthen knoll’s contour
The fence fell into disrepair even more
But now, thanks to a passionate, hard-working team
The Minute Man once again shines with a gleam
His hill is restored, his fence now is steady
And once again with his flintlock he kneels at the ready
To remind us that once upon men, bold and brave
(Some of them buried in a near shallow grave)
Defended this land with a spirit so strong
That to forget their sacrifice must surely be wrong
So this Sunday — and all days — think, if you can
Of the saga of Westport’s beloved Minute Man.

(To learn more about this Sunday’s Minute Man celebrations, click here.)

(Photo/Katherine Hooper)

(Photo/Katherine Hooper)

25 responses to “Listen, My Children, And You Shall Hear…

  1. Gerry kuroghlian

    Dan,
    Can your poetic talents be traced to Staples or Brown? Epic!

  2. Bravo Dan!

  3. Well done, Dan!! Thank you – was lovely, lively and moving!

  4. Elaine Clayton

    Bravo! I would love it if we had our official Westport version of The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere to teach the children from cradle on! I drive or walk by this statue and love it more and more, wondering what it was like to have gone through what they did during that invasion. Isn’t there some cave somewhere where they could perch or hide out?

  5. Dan! Who knew that your toes were Longfellows!!!

  6. Kathleen Bennewitz

    What a nice salute. Thanks Dan! Looking forward to you being a guide at the walking tours too!

  7. Kathleen Bennewitz

    Here is a link to the original 1910 unveiling and dedication brochure and see page 25 for Westport’s “The Minute Man” poem by Agnes Lewis Mitchell
    ….”Look out. O Minute Man,
    Still keep brave watch over thine abode,
    Beside the sea on Compo Road.”….

    http://www.westportct.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=5470

  8. Some of the best poetry comes out of elementary school. Great, Dan! The Minute Man statue is etched in my psyche forever. It meant so many things to us being young in Westport. It meant promise, goodness, action, sun, water, family, friends, history, connection – he made everyone feel connected in the town. When you turned at the curve by the Minute Man, you knew something good was beginning for the day.

  9. Cherie Quain

    WOW when did you become a poet??

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  10. Great poem Dan! Still expecting an original from you, albeit belatedly, for my big birthday

  11. All this time I thought Longfellow’s first name was Henry !!!
    Well done !!

  12. Leonard Everett Fisher

    You woke us all up Dan!! More!! More!! Give us more!!

  13. Kathleen Bennewitz

    I typed up the 1910 poem about our Minute Man–Not to show you up Dan!

    Mrs. Agnes Lewis Mitchell wrote and read this poem “The Minute Man,” at the June 17, 1910 unveiling and dedication. (a side note, she was the daughter of the Christ and Holy Trinity pastor A.N. Lewis and wife of one of the fist artists who came to Westport Neal Read Mitchell, a marine painter. They were married here in 1888)

    Old Compowe Road runs rambling down
    For many a league through Westport Town,
    Nor stops until it sees the sand
    In curving beach outline the land,
    And here the British vessels lay
    In harbor, as but yesterday!

    From every roadside home they fired,
    -Those patriots brave,-
    Freedom to win, their’ land defend,
    The Flag to save; And as the British bullets sped
    Our fathers flinched not, though they bled.

    To-day we place this statue fair
    Beneath the sun,–
    Long years have passed, and men have gone
    And freedom won.
    And here where once our fathers died,
    The Minute Man we rear with pride.

    What dost thou guard, oh Pilgrim sirs?
    No ships are in the bay.
    The chariots that race thee by
    Hold merry folk at play.
    What does thy forehead stern forefend,
    Thy knotted arm and hand defend?

    Guard us, we pray, from foes unseen
    That lurk within.
    The lust of power that gold may buy,
    The wage of sin,
    The lack of sturdy manhood’s might,
    To hold and battle for the Right!

    Teach us, both men and nation vast
    That fine ideal
    Of civic worth and civic pride
    Our sires made real;
    Teach, what they bravely taught us then
    That rank lies not in lands, but men.

    Look out, oh Minute Man, clear eyed
    Upon to-day!
    God grant the woes we do not see
    May pass away.
    Still keep brave watch o’er thine abode
    Beside the sea, on Compowe Road.

  14. That was awesome Dan. I can’t wait for my daughters to see the Minute Man for the first time when we visit this summer.

  15. Sharon Paulsen

    Love this! Awesome Dan!

  16. Leonard Flom

    After reading that beautiful poetic eulogy frfom Dan calling our attention to our oft ignored Minute Man I will nevever again just pass by that statue,without stopping,admiring and proudly saluting in thanks for what we have because of what that composite man and others like him sacrificed for us
    Leonard Flom

  17. I know. I love this guy. To think I found him to ask about trash stench!

    Regards, Tara Gans

  18. Harriet Selverstone

    Dan,
    What a brilliant piece of prose, full of historical significance; tremendous effort on your part.
    Much appreciative!

  19. Sandy Soennichsen

    Good job Dan, reminded me of the Christmas poems you used to do and tried to incorporate so many town names into it. Ahhhh, what ever happened to them?

  20. Susan Hopkins

    A brilliant homage to Westport’s Minute Man. Thank you, Dan!

  21. Margaret Hart Rynshall

    Oh, Dan. How do you do it? You make us laugh and educate us at the same time. Your tribute to the Minute Man was great. Your poem for Susan… priceless.