The Pilgrims Came

Annette Wynne

Reflecting on Pilgrims’ journey, ‘The Pilgrims Came’ by Annette Wynne unearths forgotten joy, crafting history into Thanksgiving’s legacy.

Annette Wynne

Nationality: American

Annette Wynne was an American poet who specialized in children’s poetry.

She's best known for the poem 'A Butterfly Talks.'

Key Poem Information

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Central Message: Pilgrims' journey and the values that shape Thanksgiving, inviting us to honor history, resilience, and freedom.

Speaker: Unknown

Emotions Evoked: Bravery, Courage, Happiness, Resilience

Poetic Form: Quatrain

Time Period: 20th Century

'The Pilgrims Came' explores Pilgrims' voyage, challenges perceptions, and celebrates their role in shaping Thanksgiving.

‘The Pilgrims Came’ by Annette Wynne reflects on the Pilgrims’ historical voyage to America, challenging common perceptions of their emotions. The poem explores their courage, portrays them as potential joyous figures, and highlights their role in establishing Thanksgiving. Through vivid imagery and reflection, the poem underscores the enduring impact of their journey and their values, inviting readers to reevaluate history and celebrate the festive legacy they’ve left behind.


‘The Pilgrims Came’ by Annette Wynne is a reflective poem that recounts the arrival of the Pilgrims to America and their establishment of Thanksgiving Day.

The poem begins by acknowledging the Pilgrims’ arrival across the sea, noting how they were preoccupied with their own goals and concerns, without considering the eventual impact on future generations like us. The poem marvels at the peculiar way we commemorate them on Thanksgiving Day, despite the temporal and cultural distance.

The narrative continues by detailing the Pilgrims’ historical journey. It describes their audacious voyage across the vast ocean, seeking a new haven of freedom and opportunity. The Pilgrims’ resolve in building homes near the sea in their newfound land is highlighted, underscoring their determination and their profound connection with their environment.

The poem emphasizes the universality of the Pilgrims’ tale, stating that every child is familiar with their story. The Pilgrims’ resolute decision to alter their course and embark on a lengthy voyage to worship in accordance with their beliefs is portrayed as an act of courage. The verse suggests that while conventional belief paints the Pilgrims as somber and pensive, it asserts that they likely experienced happiness and satisfaction in their new life, a sentiment often overlooked.

Ultimately, the poem attributes the establishment of Thanksgiving Day to the Pilgrims. It acknowledges that the holiday is a source of joy and festivity, contrary to the presumed solemnity of the Pilgrims’ existence. The poem concludes with an expression of gratitude to all the Pilgrims, signifying their collective contribution to the founding of Thanksgiving and to the nation’s history.

In essence, ‘The Pilgrims Came’ is a reflective ode that contemplates the Pilgrims’ voyage, their fortitude in the face of adversity, and their creation of Thanksgiving Day—a joyful commemoration of their legacy and our collective heritage.

Structure and Form

‘The Pilgrims Came’ by Annette Wynne adheres to a structured and consistent form. It is divided into four stanzas, each comprising four lines. This symmetrical organization creates a sense of balance and rhythm throughout the poem, allowing for a concise yet rhythmic expression of the poet’s thoughts.

The poem maintains a regular AABB rhyming scheme, wherein the first and second lines of each stanza rhyme with each other, as do the third and fourth lines. This deliberate rhyme pattern contributes to the poem’s musicality and aids in its memorability, drawing the reader’s attention to the connections between ideas presented in the lines.

This consistent structure serves to reinforce the thematic content of the poem. The sequential nature of the stanzas mirrors the historical progression of the Pilgrims’ story, from their arrival to the establishment of Thanksgiving Day. The clear division into stanzas also allows for a focused exploration of each aspect of the Pilgrims’ journey and the resulting holiday, enhancing the clarity of the narrative.

The AABB rhyme scheme further enhances the poem’s impact by creating a rhythmic cadence that guides the reader through the poem’s exploration of the Pilgrims’ narrative and its significance. This rhythmic quality imbues the poem with a certain lyrical quality, making it engaging and pleasing to read aloud.

Overall, the structured form of ‘The Pilgrims Came’ with its four-line stanzas and consistent AABB rhyme scheme, alongside its rhythmic and balanced organization, not only adds a sense of musicality and symmetry to the poem but also effectively supports the thematic content by echoing the historical progression and celebratory nature of the Pilgrims’ journey and the creation of Thanksgiving Day.


Annette Wynne’s poem ‘The Pilgrims Came’ explores several interconnected themes. One prominent theme is historical legacy. The poem reflects on the Pilgrims’ arrival and their eventual impact on contemporary society. Lines like “And never thought of you and me” highlight the distance in time, yet the lasting influence they have on modern thought.

Gratitude and commemoration emerge as another theme. The poem underscores how Thanksgiving Day honors the Pilgrims’ journey, demonstrating thankfulness through celebratory lines like “We thank the Pilgrims, every one!” The act of remembering their struggles and achievements signifies appreciation.

Courage and determination are central themes. The poem emphasizes the Pilgrims’ resolute journey to find religious freedom, describing how they “journeyed many a day and night” to worship as they saw fit. Their courage in the face of uncertainty is portrayed as inspiring and commendable.

The contrast between perception and reality is also present. The poem challenges the common notion of Pilgrims as solemn figures, suggesting that they might have experienced happiness. Lines such as “And grave; I’m sure that they were glad” juxtapose the conventional belief with the possibility of their joyful existence.

The theme of cultural continuity surfaces as the poem underscores the enduring familiarity of the Pilgrims’ tale among children. This reflects the timeless quality of their narrative, demonstrated through lines like “Every child knows well the tale.”

Additionally, the poem touches upon human connection with nature, depicting how the Pilgrims built their homes near the sea. This choice symbolizes their close relationship with the environment and their reliance on it for survival.

Annette Wynne’s poem ‘The Pilgrims Came’ delves into themes such as historical legacy, gratitude, courage, perception versus reality, cultural continuity, and the connection with nature. Through its rhythmic verses and engaging storytelling, the poem prompts readers to contemplate the intricate tapestry of human history and the enduring impact of the Pilgrims’ journey on modern society.

Poetic Techniques and Figurative Language

Annette Wynne employs various poetic techniques and figurative language in ‘The Pilgrims Came’ to convey her message effectively.

  • Imagery: This is vividly present, as the poem describes the Pilgrims’ voyage “across the blue” and their homes built “quite near the sea.” These visual descriptions create a sense of place and journey.
  • Personification: This technique is utilized when the poem mentions that “Every child knows well the tale.” Here, the concept of a story being known takes on human-like attributes, making the narrative relatable.
  • Rhetoric: The poem employs a rhetorical question with “And yet it’s very strange the way / We think of them Thanksgiving Day.” This technique prompts readers to reflect on the paradox of how we remember the Pilgrims’ distant past.
  • Contrast: It is another powerful technique, contrasting the Pilgrims’ perceived sadness with the assertion that they were likely “glad” and had a hand in creating a joyful Thanksgiving tradition.
  • Symbolism: It is evident in the Pilgrims’ journey “across the sea,” which represents their pursuit of freedom and the unknown. The sea becomes a symbol of both challenges and opportunities.
  • Repetition: The use of repetition, specifically the repetition of the phrase “The Pilgrims came,” serves to emphasize their significance and reinforces the poem’s central message.
  • Rhyme Scheme: The consistent AABB rhyme scheme creates a rhythmic quality, contributing to the poem’s musicality and making it easy to remember.
  • Alliteration: The poem employs alliteration in lines like “And built their homes quite near the sea.” The repetition of the “h” sound creates a smooth and flowing rhythm.

Annette Wynne employs a range of poetic techniques and figurative language in ‘The Pilgrims Came’ to engage readers and effectively convey the multifaceted message of the poem.

Detailed Analysis

Stanza One

The Pilgrims came across the sea,
And never thought of you and me;
And yet it’s very strange the way
We think of them Thanksgiving Day.

In the first stanza of Annette Wynne’s poem ‘The Pilgrims Came,’ the poet introduces a thought-provoking message that reflects on the historical context of the Pilgrims’ arrival and the modern perception of their significance, particularly on Thanksgiving Day. Through concise language and a clear structure, Wynne explores the paradox between the Pilgrims’ initial lack of consideration for future generations and the enduring reverence they now receive.

The opening line, “The Pilgrims came across the sea,” immediately situates the reader in a historical context, invoking the image of the Pilgrims’ arduous journey across the ocean to the New World. This image establishes the foundation for the poem’s exploration of their origins and the subsequent generations they have impacted.

The second line, “And never thought of you and me,” unveils an element of detachment between the Pilgrims’ historical moment and the present. It emphasizes their singular focus on their immediate goals, highlighting that their primary concern was their own pursuit of religious freedom rather than contemplating the distant future.

Through the line “And yet it’s very strange the way,” the poet introduces a sense of curiosity and contemplation. This phrase sets up the poem’s central paradox: despite the Pilgrims’ initial lack of awareness regarding modern society, there exists an inexplicable and enduring connection between their journey and the present day.

The stanza’s concluding line, “We think of them Thanksgiving Day,” forms the crux of the message. It captures the essence of the Pilgrims’ enduring impact, particularly in the context of the Thanksgiving holiday. The act of thinking about the Pilgrims on Thanksgiving Day raises questions about how and why their legacy has become intertwined with this contemporary celebration.

This first stanza serves as a thought-provoking introduction to the complex interplay between historical legacy and present-day commemoration. It challenges readers to reflect on the disconnect between the Pilgrims’ original intentions and the way their story is celebrated today, prompting contemplation about the enduring power of historical narratives and the ways in which they shape collective memory.

Stanza Two

We tell their story old and true
And built their homes quite near the sea.

In the second stanza, the poet delves deeper into the message by narrating the Pilgrims’ story of resilience and determination. Through vivid imagery and historical narrative, Wynne captures the essence of their journey and the values they embody, contributing to the broader theme of the Pilgrims’ legacy.

The opening line, “We tell their story old and true,” immediately establishes the collective nature of storytelling and the tradition of passing down historical accounts. By characterizing the story as “old and true,” the poet emphasizes its authenticity and time-tested significance.

The subsequent line, “Of how they sailed across the blue,” employs vivid imagery of the sea to convey the enormity of the Pilgrims’ voyage. The metaphor of “sailing across the blue” evokes a sense of both adventure and challenge, highlighting the vast and unknown nature of the ocean they crossed.

The line “And found a new land to be free” encapsulates the central motivation of the Pilgrims’ journey: the pursuit of freedom. This statement encapsulates their determination to seek a place where they could practice their beliefs and live without persecution.

The stanza concludes with “And built their homes quite near the sea,” which presents a scene of settlement and determination. The proximity of their homes to the sea underscores their reliance on nature for sustenance and their desire to establish a new life close to the source of their voyage.

Throughout this stanza, the poet engages in imagery and symbolism to evoke a sense of history and adventure. The sea becomes a symbol of both challenge and opportunity, while the idea of building homes near the sea serves as a metaphor for their tenacity and connection with nature.

The stanza also contributes to the broader message of the poem by reinforcing the notion that the Pilgrims’ journey was driven by the pursuit of freedom and the establishment of a new life. This historical context enhances the reader’s understanding of the Pilgrims’ legacy and their enduring influence on the concept of freedom and self-determination.

This second stanza presents a vivid narrative of the Pilgrims’ journey and their determination to find freedom in a new land. Through imagery, symbolism, and historical context, Wynne highlights the values of resilience, exploration, and the pursuit of liberty that define the Pilgrims’ story and contribute to the overall message of the poem.

Stanza Three

Every child knows well the tale
To worship God as they thought right.

In the third stanza of ‘The Pilgrims Came,’ the poet explores the theme of courageous perseverance and the Pilgrims’ unwavering commitment to their beliefs. Through a concise narrative that emphasizes bravery and determination, Wynne delivers a message that underscores the importance of standing up for one’s convictions, regardless of the challenges faced.

The opening line, “Every child knows well the tale,” draws attention to the universality of the Pilgrims’ story. By suggesting that the story is known to every child, the poet conveys that the Pilgrims’ journey is not just a historical account but a narrative that is ingrained in the collective consciousness.

The line “Of how they bravely turned the sail” employs the metaphor of sailing to represent the Pilgrims’ willingness to change their course of life with determination. This imagery creates a vivid picture of their choice to embark on a new path, one that required courage and a readiness to face the unknown.

The phrase “And journeyed many a day and night” underscores the arduous nature of the Pilgrims’ expedition. This language emphasizes the duration and challenges they encountered during their journey, highlighting their enduring commitment to their cause.

The stanza concludes with “To worship God as they thought right,” which encapsulates the core motivation of the Pilgrims’ endeavor. This line conveys their resolute determination to practice their faith as they believed it was just, even in the face of adversity.

The stanza’s narrative structure engages the reader by presenting a chronological sequence of events. This format effectively conveys the Pilgrims’ journey as a continuous and determined effort, drawing the reader into the experience.

Through the use of imagery, metaphor, and concise description, Wynne portrays the Pilgrims’ journey as an act of bravery and persistence. The poet’s focus on their pursuit of religious freedom and the readiness to overcome obstacles conveys a powerful message about the importance of staying true to one’s beliefs.

This third stanza emphasizes the Pilgrims’ courage and determination in pursuing their faith despite the challenges they faced. By employing various literary techniques, Wynne effectively conveys a message of unwavering commitment to one’s convictions and the value of standing up for what one believes is right.

Stanza Four

The people think that they were sad,
We thank the Pilgrims, every one!

In the final stanza, the poet challenges common perceptions of the Pilgrims and redefines their legacy. Through a careful examination of emotions and the creation of Thanksgiving Day, Wynne delivers a message that emphasizes the complex and nuanced nature of history while also celebrating the joyous impact of the Pilgrims’ journey.

The stanza begins with “The people think that they were sad, and grave,” which immediately contrasts the conventional belief about the Pilgrims’ demeanor with the assertion that they might not have been as solemn as commonly portrayed. This line introduces a theme of perception versus reality, prompting readers to reevaluate their assumptions about historical figures.

The line “I’m sure that they were glad” presents a counterpoint to the conventional perception, suggesting that the Pilgrims experienced a sense of happiness and contentment. This assertion challenges the notion that the Pilgrims’ journey was solely characterized by struggle and solemnity.

“They made Thanksgiving Day—that’s fun—” brings attention to the creation of Thanksgiving Day itself as a celebration. This line shifts the focus from hardship to celebration, highlighting the joyful aspect of their legacy. The phrase “that’s fun” introduces an element of a playful tone and affirms the festive nature of the holiday.

The final line, “We thank the Pilgrims, every one!” concludes the stanza with a sense of gratitude and unity. By involving the reader directly in the act of thanking the Pilgrims, the poet creates a sense of connection across time and space. This reinforces the idea that the Pilgrims’ actions have an enduring impact and deserve recognition.

Through the use of contrast, assertion, and inclusive language, the poet reshapes the conventional understanding of the Pilgrims’ experience. The stanza’s narrative shift from perceived sadness to the assertion of their potential happiness reshapes the way readers consider historical figures.

Essentially, the final stanza of Annette Wynne’s poem challenges preconceived notions about the Pilgrims’ demeanor and legacy. It underscores the theme of reassessing history, focusing on the Pilgrims’ potential joy and their role in the creation of a celebratory holiday. This stanza ultimately encourages readers to express gratitude and recognize the multifaceted impact of historical figures.


What is the tone in ‘The Pilgrims Came?’

The tone is reverent and reflective as the poem contemplates the Pilgrims’ journey and their impact on Thanksgiving Day.

Why is the poem titled ‘The Pilgrims Came?’

The poem is titled ‘The Pilgrims Came’ to directly convey the central focus of the poem—namely, the arrival and journey of the Pilgrims.

What emotions does the poem evoke in its readers?

The poem evokes a sense of gratitude, nostalgia, and curiosity in its readers as it prompts them to reflect on history, legacy, and the origins of Thanksgiving.

What is the mood of ‘The Pilgrims Came?’

The mood is a blend of introspection and celebration, characterized by a contemplative atmosphere that shifts to a more festive and appreciative tone as the poem progresses.

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The Pilgrims Came

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Annette Wynne (poems)

Annette Wynne

Annette Wynne’s poem 'The Pilgrims Came' is often cited, especially around Thanksgiving in the United States, as it touches upon the story of the Pilgrims' arrival in America. The poem is simple and designed for children, making the story of the Pilgrims relatable and easy to understand. Annette Wynne wrote many poems and stories for children, so in that sense, 'The Pilgrims Came' is representative of her style – it’s straightforward, engaging, and crafted to appeal to young readers.
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20th Century

Annette Wynne's 'The Pilgrims Came' offers a typical sentimentality and didacticism found in many 20th-century poems, emphasizing historical themes, values, and a moral lesson. However, its focus on the Pilgrims' journey and the establishment of Thanksgiving sets it apart, as it combines historical narrative with a celebratory tone not often seen in 20th-century poetry, making it a unique representation of the era.
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This poem by Annette Wynne distinguishes itself among American poems with its celebratory tone and historical narrative. While lesser-known than some American poets, Wynne effectively merges storytelling with a unique sense of joy, offering a fresh perspective. The poem's thematic blend of historical legacy and gratitude resonates with readers, contributing to its resonance within American literature. Its combination of accessible storytelling and festive spirit makes it a notable and engaging contribution to the American poetic tradition.
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This poem delves into the theme of celebration through the establishment of Thanksgiving Day. The poem portrays the Pilgrims' journey as a cause for festivity, transforming their challenges into a joyful commemoration. The creation of the holiday reflects a celebration of their legacy and the gratitude felt for their role in shaping a cherished tradition.
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This poem delves into the theme of desire as it portrays the Pilgrims' strong yearning for religious freedom. Their journey across the sea reflects their intense desire to escape persecution and establish a life where they could practice their beliefs. The poem underscores their determination to fulfill their desire for a better existence.
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This poem explores the theme of dreams through the Pilgrims' pursuit of religious freedom. Their journey across the sea reflects their aspirations for a better life. The poem underscores their determination to turn their dreams into reality by leaving behind their homeland and venturing into the unknown to establish a new way of life.
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This poem explores the theme of identity through the portrayal of the Pilgrims as pioneers seeking a new land for freedom. Their journey and establishment of homes reflect their determination to define their identity as a community separate from their origins. The poem underscores the idea that their identity was shaped by their pursuit of religious liberty.
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This poem by Annette Wynne addresses the theme of journey through the depiction of the Pilgrims' voyage across the sea to find religious freedom. The poem highlights their courageous decision to embark on a challenging and uncertain journey, underscoring their determination to pursue a new life and practice their beliefs in a new land.
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New Life

This poem engages the theme of new life by depicting the Pilgrims' journey across the sea to find a fresh beginning. Their establishment of homes near the sea symbolizes a rebirth in a land of freedom. The poem emphasizes their pursuit of a new life where they could practice their beliefs and establish a community.
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This poem evokes the emotion of bravery by narrating their journey across the sea in search of religious freedom. Their decision to "bravely turn the sail" signifies their courage to confront the unknown. The poem emphasizes their resolute determination, portraying them as individuals who faced challenges with bravery, evoking a sense of admiration for their courage.
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This poem elicits the emotion of courage by depicting the Pilgrims' resolute journey to find religious freedom. The poem emphasizes their bravery in "turn[ing] the sail" and enduring "many a day and night" on an uncertain voyage. Their commitment to worship as they believed right exemplifies their unwavering courage, evoking a sense of admiration.
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This poem elicits happiness through its assertion that the Pilgrims were likely glad in their pursuit of religious freedom. The poem challenges the assumption of their solemnity, suggesting a joyful aspect to their journey. This perspective infuses the narrative with a sense of positivity and contentment, eliciting a feeling of happiness.
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This poem evokes the emotion of resilience by detailing the Pilgrims' arduous journey across the sea. Their determination to build homes near the sea despite challenges reflects their unwavering resolve. The poem's depiction of their pursuit of religious freedom amplifies the sense of resilience in the face of adversity.
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This poem looks into adversity by portraying the Pilgrims' challenging journey across the sea. Their determination to build homes despite hardships reflects their resilience. The poem underscores their ability to overcome obstacles, highlighting their response to adversity and their quest for freedom, ultimately conveying a message of strength in the face of difficulty.
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This poem perceives change through the Pilgrims' decision to alter their lives drastically. They turn their sails toward a new land, signifying a transformative shift. The poem emphasizes their adaptability and the significant change they underwent to seek religious freedom and establish a different way of life.
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This poem addresses choice through the Pilgrims' decision to embark on a journey seeking religious freedom. They choose to turn the sail, symbolizing a crucial choice. The poem emphasizes their agency in pursuing their beliefs and the consequences of their chosen path, highlighting the theme of personal choice and its impact on their lives.
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This poem delves into humanity by showcasing the Pilgrims' pursuit of freedom and the establishment of a new life. Their journey, decision to build homes, and desire to worship reflect universal human aspirations. The poem underscores their shared values, depicting the Pilgrims' humanity in their quest for self-expression and a better existence.
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This poem adheres to a quatrain structure, consisting of four-line stanzas. This form enables concise storytelling and thematic exploration. Each quatrain delivers a distinct narrative element, collectively unveiling the Pilgrims' journey, values, and legacy. The rhythmic consistency of the quatrain form enhances the poem's flow, aiding its engagement and emphasizing the sequential progression of historical events.
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Hilary Benard Poetry Expert
Hilary has an MA in Comparative Literature & Critical Theories and BA in Comparative History. Courtesy of his expertise in literature and poetry, he has a depth of experience in a wide range of literary texts and movements: this includes the historical, cultural, and social contexts that produced them.

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