In his poem The Kid Joan Aiken’s American father Conrad Aiken celebrated the optimistic and peaceful spirit of the early Americans, some of whom were the family’s own Pilgrim Ancestors. In particular he admired an early solitary English scholar, William Blackstone, whose story Aiken imagined, and whose life of reading, philosophising and growing fruit trees he emulated in a Massachusetts farmhouse of his own some centuries later.
From The Kid:
Morning and evening, Lord, I beseech Thee,
suffer my cry from this woode to reach Thee,
these are Thy presents, Thy heart I find
in the dark forest in sleet and winde.
As on the sea Thou sailedst before,
a cloud, that our shippe might see this shore,
so now Thou walkest, these trees Thy feet,
and in this brooke Thy heart doth beat.
Lorde, I am fearless, Thy mercy shown,
for where Thou art there is nought unknowns
what are these seemings save Thine own?
He moved to the north: by the harbor found
a sweet spring bubbling in open ground:
on a clear hill, by an oystred river,
and here, he thought, I shall dwell forever.
A plat of roses, a plot of trees,
apples, pears, and a skep of bees,
friends in the village, true Indian friends,
here Lord in joye my journey ends.
What should I want but bookes on shelf—
these few I have—and that dark selfe
that poures within me, a chartless sea,
where every landfall is named for Thee?
What other voyage could solace me?
Thou being pilot, Lord, I find
untrodden kingdoms in the minde:
freedom is all my coin: and these
humilities and simplicities,
Thy humblest creatures, birds and flowers,
instruct and ornament my hours.
The full poem can be found in Conrad Aiken’s Selected Poems
from Oxford University Press