Cape Cod Hisory main page, 19th Century literature, book reviews,

Cape Cod Rhymes
T. N. Stone, MD
Cambridge MA: Riverside Press

"Thomas Newcomb Stone, M.D., born in 1818, was a son of Dr. William Stone. He was a graduate (1840) of Bowdoin College and Dartmouth Medical School, from which he received his medical degree, October 24, 1843. He practiced in Wellfleet from the time he graduated until 1875, with the exception of two years in Truro. He removed from Wellfleet to Provincetown in 1875, where he died May 15, 1876. He was a very pleasing speaker and writer. He was a member of the school committee of Wellfleet nearly thirty years, representative in 1873, and state senator in 1874 and 1875. His first marriage was with Hannah D., daughter of William N. Atwood.  His second wife was Nancy B., another daughter of William N. Atwood. " - Deyo's History, 1890. p 245

 The author's introduction says that the contents are "rhymes," not "poems" - diversions of a busy physician's spare minutes, not serious literature by a professional poet. I'm not much of a judge, and he was being self-deprecating to forestall the critics, but I don't think he's an overlooked genius.

There are 24 rhymes in the index, some with subsections:
To the Wanderers is the first rhyme, addressed to Cape Codders across the world, longing for home.

Neptune's Vow is a long rhyme, full of classical references, about the building of successive bridges, and finally a dike, across the mouth of East Harbor between Truro and Provincetown. The rhyme takes the Ocean's point of view, and in that way is pro-environmental, but maybe more just nostalgic. A Sand-Hill Reverie looks at the Cape in geologic time, with Christian thoughts on Eternity.

The Sons of Old Cape Cod is a paean to the labors and successes and noble losses of Cape Codders in developing the country.

Several of the rhymes refer to the Civil War, so recently over - lovers' laments (The Dream of Isabel), praise for the Union and its defenders, scorn for the traitors and assassins (The Bells of Vistory). Some are pious Christian thoughts about life and especially death. To the Atlantic is a hymn. When Tommy Died and Twilight Shadows mourn a child. As a physician, Stone would have dealt with death all the time, but these seem very personal. (Thomas Newcomb Stone, Jr. died in 1857, at age 6.) Dead Upon the Shore and The Fisher's Widow step away from the death to consider the family left behind.

Rhyme of the Ancient Fisherman is a nautical fable, arranged to support partnership in marriage. The Pilgrim's Pot of Clams - clams as manna. Woman's Rule is a long, generous and rueful look back at the women important in his life. A Rhymsters Dream is a humorous reverie on the mixed effects if railroad service was to come to the lower Cape - Stone was clearly ambivalent. And Good-by is a seashore and nautical Fare Well.

Included here:
Pilgrims Pot of Clams,
A Rhymster's Dream,
The Hyena Hunt,
"After the Party."---A Parody of Hohenlinden.---At Wellfleet Lindens

The Pilgrim's Pot of Clams

Dark was the wintry sky above,
Bare was the forest round,
When first the Pilgrim's weary foot
Hallowed our native ground.

Through leafless trees the cold wind howled
And piled the sleet and snow ;
Above, he saw no smiling sky,
No fruit or flower below.

Clamo Tibi — he lifted prayer,
"Father, to Thee I cry,"
When straight from Plymouth flats there came
A low and liquid sigh.

It told not to his wakened ear
Of sturdy bulls or rams,
But whispered in his hour of need,
"The shore is full of clams."

Down to the shore the Pilgrim hies,
With basket and with hoe,
And, as he turns the golden sand,
He shouts again, "Clam-O !"

And oftimes in that winter drear
between his fireside jambs,
With cheering odor, music sweet,
Simmered his pot of clams.

Clams kept wan Famine from his door ;
Clams fed the Pilgrim band ;
Clams saved the noble seed that fills
The plains of our broad land.

Then let Italia boast her wine,
The torrid isles their yams ;
Cape Cod still bears upon her shield,
The Pilgrim's Pot of Clams.

Pleuro-pneumonia takes our beef,
Trichina spoils our hams,
But still there's health and strength within
The Pilgrim's Pot of Clams.

A Rhymster's Dream


Supper was o'er, the oysters ate,
The logic all expended ;
The darkness of our village hall
Told all "The meeting's ended."

At midnight I in office sat,
After that famous day,
What time the dream-god's elfin crew
Round others' pillows play.

My feet were higher than the spot
Where brains sometimes are found,
And like a "Soothing syrup" came
A sleep both sound and sound.

Methought I saw a railroad car
Come clatt'ring down the Cape,
Drawn by a snorting iron steed,
Demon of uncouth shape.

Old Cape Cod, like a boggy marsh,
Shook 'neath his mighty tread ;
Each pine tree, as the demon passed,
Low bowed its tufted head.

The Three lights like three glow-worms shown,
As rushed the monster by ;
The Highland showed but taper dim
Before his blazing eye.

Each eel in Eastham's famous pond
Turned white with very fear,
And every quahaug oped his mouth,
In fright, from ear to ear.

A piercing shriek was in my ear,
As if a war-whoop sounded,
And by, with wildly flying robes,
A stalwart Indian bounded.

"It comes, it comes!" I heard him cry,
"The fiend that broke my sleep ;
He's chased me from my prairie land,
Now let him try the deep."

And as a wail of sharp distress
Rose on the air of night,
Beneath the wave the flying form
Swift vanished from my sight.

Still sped the demon on, and still
Clattered the whirling car,
His mouth a flame — and his lone eye
Glared on the night afar.

Each oyster off on wellfleet flats,
Gasped in his sandy bed,
Each horse-foot ploughing Smalley's bar
Turned his long tail and fled.

Through Wellfleet village quick he sped,
Then straight through Truro wood,
For, like a traveller in haste,
He shunned their country road.

The dogfish heard it off the shore,
And sosught his deep sea bed ;
In vain South Truro sighed for clams,
For every clam was dead.

He clomb old Truro's highest hills,
Along her marshes flashed ;
Pond Village started with affright,
As by in haste he dashed.

Low beach Point trembled, as he trod
Upon its sandy ridge,
And like a Titan madly leaped
Across the tott'ring bridge.

The codfish heard its thund'ring clang,
And woeful cried, "Alas !"
Each lobster lifted claws in prayer,
And paled each striped bass.

E'en bluefish left his prey untouched,
At snorting of that steed ;
And finback cut the foaming wave,
With more than lightning speed—

While mack'rel off on Middle bank
In sullen silence sighed ;
And halibut on Jeffries' Shoal,
Low bent his head and cried.

"Ah now," they said. "the deed is done,
The right arm now is free ;
Now can she send her harvest in
She gathers from the sea.

"No waiting now, for wind or tide,
No care for storm or sun ;
We only snap at tempting bait —
Presto! their market's done.

"And we, who sport in ocean's depth's
To-night, as careless fish,
To-morrow's noon sees smoking hot
On Boston merchant's dish."

I heard a noise in poultry yards ;
The fowl, with wing and bill,
Were breaking through each slatted coop,
With all a female's will.

The rooster crowed, as off they sped,
Scorning all detention ;
"What now? I cried. Rooster replied,
""'Tis a hen convention."

I stood upon a Truro hill,
Looked down her deepest vale,
And saw, from every poultry yard,
Thither each inmate sail.

A turkey proud, with wattles red,
Filled well the speaker's chair,
While on the ground, as caucus scribes,
Scratched fast three pullets fair.

"We've met," the red old speaker said,
"To tell the world our mind
Upon this madness that has seized
Bipeds of human kind.

"We thought that here, on old Cape Cod,
We were from railroads free,
For here their cars are white-winged craft,
Their road the level sea.

"But now, alas! the fever's here ;
Those squinting engineers,
These railroad suppers, well I think
May wake our darkest fears,"
"Let's put it down," a rooster cried,
Black as a night with rain
(His grandsire won his golden spurs
In cockpits of old Spain).

"I'll dare the monster to the fight,
I'll risk Hidalgo blood ;
And if I in the contest fall,
'Tis for my kindred's good."

"Outside barbarians," Shanghai said,
"Who 'gainst all poultry sin,
We'll crush them, as our emp'ror does,
With flaming bulletin."

Up sprand a hen of native breed
(For female rights was she),
"Poor fools," she cried, "to think to stop
Thses Yankees by decree.

"Just touch their purse, the heart is there,
That does each effort move ;
'Tis stronger than all votes or prayers,
For 'tis the cash they love.

"Tell them that if this road is laid,
It ne'er shall profits pay,
For ne'er a hen upon Cape Cod,
Another egg will lay

"It is too much that we must lay
For Boston and New York ;
Our Yankee egges shall never fry
Besides the Dutchman's pork.

"True, it may bring our patriot heads
Upon the bloody block ;
But ne'er a hen's maternal grief
Shall they for profit mock."

"That's it," a female turkey sighed,
"I've raised many a brood,
And seen three scores of children fair
Lie dabbled in their blood."

"Amen!" hissed out an ancient goose,
"My ancestors saved Rome,
Let's pass the vote, for daylight's near,
And goslings wait at home."

They passed the vote, with each wing up,
To waked human fears,
And bade the scribes a copy give,
To squinting engineers.

But onward passed that demon steed,
Wild blazed that lone eye still,
Till like a courser spent it stood
At foot of Highpole hill.

I heard a mother chirruping
To baby on her knee,
"Papa is now in New York, dear,
He'll be at home to tea."

A lassie read a telegram —
Thus spoke the mystic wire :
"By night's express I come to you ;
Kindle the parlor fire."

"I vow," an old man snarling cried,
He of the old ox team,
Whose infant slumbers ne'er were broke
By locomotive scream —

"These pesky railroads will, I fear,
Soon twitch me off my legs ;
O for the days of calico,
Which goodwife bought with eggs.

"But now, if daughter wants a gown,
She'll off like lightning dash
To lunch at Copeland's, a la mode,
At Jordan's spend my cash.

When she's returns she's Frenchified
Or Dutch for near a week ;
And talks of Coburgs, Bismarck brown,
Chincilla, moire antique.

Methought each horse gave up the ghost
Before that steed of fire ;
Higgins no stages drove by day,
By night no Black Maria.

No packets then then did roll and lurch,
With landsmen paying toll ;
No lady crying "Keep her still !
O steward, hand a bowl."

But easy on their cushioned seats,
As by their own fireside,
They studied fashions, as they sped
Along the circling ride.

I heard the shriek of early train
And startred from my chair ;
The railroad vanished, and the steed
Proved but an oyster-mare.

The Hyena Hunt


After the Party. A Parody of Hohenlinden.

Here are two poems by Dr Thomas N Stone, with an introduction, scanned from newspaper clippings found inside his book of Cape Cod Rhymes (1869). I don't know what newspaper or its date.


"The Hyena Hunt was a local comedy which took place about fifty years ago, when hideous noises were occasionally heard at night, strange footprints found in the sand, and a strange animal sometimes seen, by those who lived near the woods, which was thought by the description to be a hyena. Depredations were committed on barn yards and hen roosts, women and children were frightened and an organized hunt was decided upon, with the result which the Doctor set forth in his "Hyena Hunt," written at that time. Though no animal was found, he must have been disturbed at the commotion, for the baying at night grew fainter and fainter for several weeks, when he at last was lost to sight and sound. The verses are printed by request of some who still remember the famous hunt."



In Wellfleet, when the sun was low,
All bloodless lay the untrodden snow,
And dark and dreary was the flow
Of the Atlantic, dashing ceaselessly.

But Wellfleet saw another sight,
When the horns were blown at morning light,
Assembling men with muskets bright,
To join the hunt, right willingly.

By California fast arrayed,
Friend Baker draws his trusty blade,
And furious Lisha's black dog bayed,
To join the dreadful revelry.

Through all the town the summons ran,
And every house turned out its man,
Resolved to fight in foremost van,
Against the foe, most valiantly.

From Money Hill the Freemans came,
Soldiers who swell with valor's flame,
In haste to reach the fields of fame,
And meet Hyena, valiantly.

And down town, too with tool was Lot;
Each scholar, who his school forgot,
Had charged his gun with large buckshot,
To wound the foe, most mortally.

Holbrook was there, from Tremont row ;
And Higgins, with oyster knife, I trow;
Daniels, whose Cottage was under the hill,
And like the old lady, he lives there still.

There was Burrows and Newcomb, from Poverty Lane,
And Harding, the valiant, from Araby's plain ;
Our Constable Hawes, with undaunted heart,
Around with his staff, to do well his part.

The lawyer, eager for battle or sport,
But the way was long, and his legs were short;
Friend Davis' voice, on that morn rang out,
Like a musical band, or avenger's shout.

Otis and Mott, whose good aim, or good luck,
Had been the death of many a duck;
And there as well—but why mention names,
They are all recorded on the scroll of fame.

As far and wide as the summons rang,
From every door rushed forth a man;
Through Peirce's Hollow the warriors fly,
"Up, guards, and at him!" the battle cry.

And fast and fierce from Dogtown came
Bright swords of steel and hearts of flame;
Our market man whetted his cleaver so bright
That the Fish's beard turned gray at the sight.

While eager and fierce for the battle shock,
Far in the pond now rode Capt. Rock;
Fast by his side, rode his worthy sire,
Whose heart, like his pipe, was all on fire.

Thrice o'er his head his good sword he swung,
And far away his old scabbard flung;
On that broadsword those heroes swore
That women and children should tremble no more.

That never again should Smith lose his meat,
For true blood was up, and vengeance was sweet;
Then shook the woods with voices riven,
Then rushed Stone's steed, to battle driven.
And fiercely 'neath the lights of heaven,
Far flashed that bright artillery.

'Tis noon, but scarce you torrid sun
Can pierce the woods or see the fun:—
When heroes fight, hyenas run,
Beneath the pines green canopy.

The combat deepens; On ye brave!
Who swore to dig hyena's grave.
Now, Freeman! All thy bright blades wave;
Charge, Stone! with all thy cavalry.

Oh! few could tell when many met,
When the hunt was o'er, and the sun was set,
With legs well tired, and faces wet,
What foe they chased, so valiantly.

And still, as through those woods of pine,
The traveler wends, at eve's decline,
He stands to hear the fearful whine
Of hyena's dreadful mystery.

And still, at 'Fornia's crowded store,
The heroes come, to puzzle o'er,
And take anew the oaths they swore
To solve the dreadful mystery.

Some vow it is a lioness, bore
By ships from Afric's sunny shore,
That paces now our Cape sands o'er;
Moaning for whelps, most piteously.

Some still, a hyena, whose fearful howl,
Had shook the woods of Tonegal,
In company with the fierce jackal,
Fighting the Fellah, hideously.

Some unbelievers, with taunting sneer,
Swore 'twas a goat, a dog, a deer,
Whose footsteps, magnified by fear,
Had seized the fearful hearted.

But there those fearful footsteps stand,
Imbedded on Atlantic's strand,
And the moaning cry runs through the land,
As if from loved ones parted.

Oh! green are the bays, round the soldiers names
Who fight in freedom's war;
And trumpet tongues will pronounce the names
Of the heroes who conquered the Czar.
But a fairer fame awaits the knight
Who meets this foe, in bloody fight,
And wins the victory there.

With pine the fair his brow shall wreath,
As they sing his victories o'er,
And more than once his name will breathe
As they meet in street, or in store.
Fond mothers, as pressed are their babes, to their breasts,
Will bless him who gave them fearless rest
From the foe, that once did scare.

And lovers, who seek the pine wood's shade,
As they ramble along, o'er hill and glade,
Will sing of the knight, so gallant in fight,
Who routed the foe with much slaughter.
And the worthy old sires, as they sit by the fires,
Will tell of the youth who battled the beasts,
And whisper his praise to their daughter.

Then up, heroes! to battle the contest anew,
Again, Capt. Rock, assemble your crew;
Again let the sound of Freeman's shrill horn
Ring from centre to suburb, at break of the morn.
Draw, Baker, draw! that trusty old blade,
And lead out your men, ere your laurels fade;

Again pledge your fortune, your honor, your lives,
And fight for your hearthstone, your babes, and your wives.

Again scour your woods, o'er hills and down glen,
And if foe don't appear, why then, march home again.
Your wives will receive you, not with tears, but with tea,
And cheer up your hearts with the best of Bohea.

Fair damsels will prove it is better by far
That lovers be puffed, than to puff a cigar.
And the Doctor now pledges his honor in time,
To fight at a distance, and to murder in rhyme.