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 over his 2-year term will unite the Shelburne community and foster a true sense of community pride.

Veterans' Memorial Poem by Rick Bessette

Veterans' Memorial with Poem



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

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.

Written by Rick Bessette

Bench Beside the Bay

Took my heart to a quiet place
To the bench beside the bay
For just a little while.
Time won't allow me to stay;

Came to share my inner secrets
With that bench beside the bay
and dreamed of warmer weather
On this cold mid winter day.

The still lake seemed a darker blue.
The sky a threatening grey;
A long squall line drifting south
Meant that snow was on the way.

I'm anxious for spring's arrival.
For the music of the birds
And a beauty in flowers
Beyond ordinary words.

Written by Rick Bessette
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.

Written by Rick Bessette

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-

​Written by Rick Bessette

Rick Bessette, Poet Laureate

Rick Bessette, Poet Laureate
  1. Let's Talk Poetry, Saturday, February 24, 2018 at 1:30 p.m.

    Shelburne Town Hall. Bring your favorite poems to share!
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 The Sound of Snow

Snow, it can fall from mid-day sky

At dusk or at days new dawn,
Placed gently upon bow and branch
And blanket the frozen lawn.

I have heard the voice of thunder
And flash of bright lightning too.
thunder snow in the still of night
Stirs the senses through and through.

There's a storm they call "Nor Easter".
Fury lies within its breeze.
Strong enough to push snow sideways,
Packing it beneath the eves.

O the snow that flies in the night
When all is quiet and still.
Its magic stirs the wondering eyes
And warms a hearts winter chills.

Yes, how the sound of falling snow
Leave emotions left unsaid.
I'll bid the busy day goodnight
As I make my way to bed.

Written by Rick Bessette

A Festival of Trees


In the still of the night,
With full moon hung above,
Twas peace in the forest
Except coo of a dove.

All the trees dressed with snow,
In the purest of white,
Were twinkling softly
Warming the heart this night.

Wishing You peace
And blessings
in the New Year.

Written by Rick Bessette

The Golden Rule

"Do Unto Others as You Would Have Done to You"
 It's really not that difficult,
to schoolchildren this is taught.
The golden rule for behavior,
It comes from a simple thought.

So plant the tiny seed of peace,
Find forgiveness in your heart.
A handshake, note or little hug.
Let the healing process start.
Written by Rick Bessette

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. 

Written by Rick Bessette




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.

 Written by Rick Bessette

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.

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.

Written by Rick Bessette