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Inaugural Poet Laureate
Rick Bessette is Shelburne's First Poet Laureate
Rick is a native of Shelburne, and was raised on Shelburne Farms. He has been writing poetry for over 15 years, but with more passion the last 10 years. Rick's poetry is a reflection of his Uncle Joe Thomas, who also wrote in rhyming quatrain style.
Everything he writes is real, something that was felt, heard, seen or touched. There is no make believe. His poetry is simple and easy for everyone to relate to.
Rick feels if he can make someone's day a little better with a poem, then he has done his job as a writer.
Rick is well known throughout the Shelburne community as “The People’s Poet,” having written the poem engraved in Shelburne’s Veterans Memorial (see photo below) and has shared his poetry with the Shelburne Community School, the Waldorf School, the Charlotte-Shelburne Rotary Club, and several retirement and assisted living communities in the area. His book of poetry, A Vermonter’s Heritage, Listening to the Trees, was published by local Wind Ridge Publishing.
The town manager, library director and the selectboard adopted a Poet Laureate Program in the fall of 2015 to support and celebrate poetry and arts in the community.
The Poet Laureate Committee is pleased to have Rick Bessette as Shelburne’s first Poet Laureate, confident that his work will unite the Shelburne community and foster a true sense of community pride.
|All Poems Written by Rick Bessette|
Shelburne Farms has been my home for most of my life. I have walked, biked and driven all over this magical, magnificent, peaceful landscape. My family is still connected to the farm for the third generation. I started work there in 1968 as a grounds keeper with Darcy Patterson. I had the great opportunity to work with Mrs. Van Webb and her short-tailed pointer, Turtle. We always met in the flower garden, around 9 AM. As I drive through the farm gates the outside world leaves me. My fond memories come quietly back to me as if it were yesterday. I have seen its landscape in many moods, and have enjoyed the abundant wildlife that also calls this home. From sunrise to sunset every day is different. One summer day a few years ago I stopped for a little while to reminisce my lifetime here in my "Field of Dreams." Written by Rick Bessette
Daylight fleeing as it does
And evening drawing nigh.
The fire box now glowing,
Feeding sparks to the sky.
Sent up the chimney flu,
There inside the boarded walls
Was smell and sounds I knew.
From levered pipe on the side
There flowed an amber stream.
The sweet odor from the pail,
A sugar maker’s dream.
“Time to fire”, someone says,
With slab of seasoned wood.
Its glowing inferno fed,
Warmth felt from where I stood.
Hard labor and precious time,
Traditions kept alive.
Generations of stories,
It’s how “sugaring” survives.
Shelburne "My Community"
Recalling my childhood memories,
It has always been home to me.
Shelburne, how I have watched you grow
Into the town you've come to be.
My community, small but vibrant,
Where wildlife still has a place.
Rolling hills and quiet forest
Set aside as a protected space.
On Sunday mornings a church bell rings
Down by the waking village green.
A young couple walks hand in hand
In country air still crisp and clean.
Peaceful sunsets over Lake Champlain
Quietly viewed from Shelburne Beach,
Soothes the weary that linger there;
Dream of tomorrow within reach.
Majestic green mountains in the east
Where a morning sun climbs the sky.
To the west the Adirondacks
Where the sun bids good night, good bye.
To you, our future generations
Please keep our Shelburne pure and clean.
Protect the heritage we have built,
Forever to be enjoyed and seen.
|A Tribute to the Silent Giants
Farewell o silent giants.
We will miss your towering shade,
Where memories, dreams and footsteps
From our minds shall never fade.
Shadows cast beneath the moon
Danced on the quiet fields below,
Where sleigh and tractor passing by
Trace history long ago.
With fond memories of Poplar Drive October 18, 2018
The Planting of a Seed
It starts as a tiny seed
That falls to fertile ground.
Nourished by warm sun and rain,
Begins life without a sound.
Its purpose to thrive and grow
With its beauty to share.
Lives a life content to be
With mother nature's care.
|What is there in a Tree?
O what is there in a tree
That gives a landscape more?
Standing sentry to the house
And shades a forest floor.
I know of a mighty oak
That held our children’s swing,
Within its gnarly branches
Songbirds would perch and sing.
Providing food and shelter
On dark and stormy night,
For the raccoons and the squirrels
In a burrow out of sight.
In the light of a full moon
Shadows lay on the lawn,
Proclaiming your greatness there
Until the breaking dawn.
This poem is dedicated to the bur oak that was in our front yard on the farm. It remains to be one of the largest bur oaks in Northern Vermont.
A Firefighters' Prayer
Give me the strength and courage
to respond without delay-
to answer a call in need
No matter what time of day-
May you guide my every thought
and every step my boots take-
Accept responsibility in decisions that I make-
I will wear this uniform with great pride and dignity-
Honor those past volunteers
That served our community-
The sun climbs up the eastern sky,
Bringing life to a new day.
Rolling meadows velvety green,
Budding leaves are on their way.
Waiting pastures welcomes its herd
After milking time is through,
For it’s there they graze in comfort
In fields watered by dew.
Green mountain peaks have shed their snow,
A clear blue sky hangs overhead.
Nature greets us most sincerely,
We have nothing here to dread.
From my tractor seat this morning
I see a world full of good,
And knowing that time is precious,
These treasures are understood
|All Poems Written by Rick Bessette|
To a Friend (for Chief Jim Warden)
There are many things about you
That folks came to trust and know.
Your love of this community,
Our grateful hearts, we bestow.
You always had a funny tale
To bring laughter to our day.
You could settle those in distress in a firm yet calming way. For thirty years you gave beyond
The call to serve and protect.
From people to dogs you were there
To resolve abuse and neglect.
With wisdom and understanding,
With a compassion in your heart
To avoid confrontations.
We wish you all the very best
On lives journey as you go.
You will forever be a friend,
And one we are proud to know.
First light’s sky,
An orange fiery
glow In the east
That will give way
To a rising sun.
In The western sky,
It is the prelude
To an approaching Winter storm.
There are no birds
At the feeder,
No wind to make
The leafless branches
Change is on its way.
|Farewell to the Monarchs
Over windswept fields of autumn
Monarchs drift and flutter there.
Their internal clocks reminding,
It’s migration time, prepare.
On delicate wings they journey
Three thousand miles away.
Mexico their destination,
From this route they’ll never stray.
We shall miss their gift of beauty
But with anticipation,
Knowing they will return to us,
It’s natures gift, migration.
The Shelburne Falls Sycamore
“A Witness Tree”
Written somewhere long ago
In the lost journals of time,
A seed laid unto soil,
Was fed by rain and sunshine.
Having escaped storm and drought
And mans desire to build.
Saved from sharp teeth of the saw,
And your limbs from being milled.
A witness to changing times
Where secrets and dreams were made.
Perhaps where young lovers kissed
Beneath its plentiful shade.
Symbol of strength and beauty,
Your crown reaching for the sky;
A monument to nature;
Something your money can’t buy.
Do you have the time?
A certain time
If I could turn back time
Make up time
Lost in time
Find the time
Needs more time
Where did the time go?
Time has a way
How many times?
Share your time
Time to heal
Out of time
Time is up
Look at the time
Time is money
Go back in time
You can’t buy more time!
|Blossom Time in the Orchard
In the stillness of this morning
I walk between the parted rows.
It’s blossom time in the orchard,
Where the apples will come to grow.
A cool north wind whispers softly
Through old gnarly and weathered limb,
That has been kept within its bounds
By those skilled hands that shape and trim.
Honey bees will begin their work,
Pollinating is what they’ll do.
If not for their delicate flight
The blossoms wouldn’t have a clue.
And when the leaves begin to turn,
Daylight hours soon to fade,
For those the apples left untouched
Have promises of “cider made”.
For Nick and crew at Shelburne Orchard
A Tribute to the Ticonderoga
She is the last of her kind,
Saved by a woman and a dream.
A journey of two miles,
Moved by a brave and daring team.
Twelve, thirty one, fifty five,
She was winched across frozen ground.
Taking sixty five long days,
Reaching her new berth safe and sound.
Her days now spent near a friend,
The lighthouse from Colchester Reef .
Now you can stand between them
Scratching your head in disbelief.
Her grand staircase and hallways
All masterpieces from the past.
Hand carved and trimmed by craftsmen,
Built with pride and skill to last.
The walking beam and smokestack
All a symbol from bygone days.
Her whistle can still be heard
As if the TI was underway.
This poem is dedicated to Electra Webb and Ralph Nading Hill for their vision and passion for the TI And for the craftsmen past and present.
I recently found out a member of our community lost her husband a few months ago. In his final moments she quietly asked him, "Where can I look for you and still talk to you?" In his weakened state and with a soft voice, he pointed to the night sky and said, "Look to the North Star, that is where I'll be". May we all find peace when we look to the evening sky.
The slow crackling of a campfire
And night songs of the peepers,
caress the weary heart and mind
From sounds of phones and beepers.
I look to the stars in silence,
North Star having its own place.
Constellations play hide and seek
And shooting stars sometimes race.
Sparkling like a thousand diamonds,
Lighting up the midnight sky.
Keeping company with the moon,
Soothing to both you and I.
Another day now behind me,
Reflect on things I've done and said,
And hope perhaps that all is right
Before I climb into bed.