As a child, growing up on Banner Mountain, I began writing poetry and continued writing it in high school. I loved reading poetry and hearing my teachers discuss poets and their work. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become a poet. And I certainly never thought that one day I would spend a night at the same Inn by the Sea where Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) had visited, where he had been inspired to write some of his masterpieces.
This lovely bed and breakfast–the Emerson Inn by the Sea–is where Ralph Waldo Emerson sometimes vacationed. The Inn has been renovated and the renovation left a portion of the original rooms where Emerson had stayed with his family. It was renamed Ralph Waldo Emerson after their most celebrated guest. Much of his inspiration, it is said, came from visiting this rocky coastline of Rockport, Massachusetts.
Rockport — A Place Beside the Sea
I visited this romantic place and stayed at this unique Emerson Inn by the Sea with my husband and part of our family a few years ago when we returned to New England to show our children where we had lived. My husband was stationed at Pease Air Force Base, Portsmouth, New Hampshire for three years. We lived in Kittery, Maine when our third child was born. What a treasure to revisit New England, see old friends, begin a new poem, and to set foot on the rocky coast where Emerson once found inspiration to write!
Lee Henry Hammond swore he’d kill that bird.
Without a pause, it whip-poor-will’d all night
outside his bedroom window. “It’s a sin
to kill a mockingbird,” Matilda said.
“This bird’s a whippoorwill,” reminded Lee.
He quickly took his rifle from its case.
“Oh, no! don’t shoot the bird,” Matilda begged.
Lee paid no mind and stepped out to the porch.
“Now, go to bed. I can take care of this,”
he said. His wife reluctantly obeyed
but stayed awake in case he needed help.
And soon he yelled, “Matilda, bring a light.”
She ran to him with flashlight shining bright.
Lee pointed to a tree beside the house.
She cast the beam upon an oak tree’s bough.
The light reflected beady, blazing eyes.
Why must I help him kill this whippoorwill,
Matilda thought, but knew the reason why.
Her wedding vows had brought her to this task.
She’d promised to obey and duty-bound
she shut her eyes and shone the glowing light.
Kaboom! The pellets blasted through the leaves.
Wings flapped away to nearby tree of thorns.
Lee grabbed a slingshot, stuck a stone inside.
“Come quick!” he shrieked. “Matilda, shine the light!”
Matilda beamed the ray upon the bird
which called once more before the blow that felled
it from the thorn tree’s highest limb. The thud–
when whippoorwill contacted rocky ground–
caused sudden chills to frost Matilda’s heart.
“It was a sin to kill that whippoorwill!” She lay awake and worried for their fate.
Lee Henry Hammond smiled himself to sleep.
From my 1980s Journal: “Time is a most precious gift. We must cherish it as we would our very best friend. We must greet it with a most warm welcome and treat it with respect because the time of each day is as a guest who will not come our way again.” —Freeda Baker Nichols, Tuesday, March 25, 1980.