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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.
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.
There flowed an amber stream.
The sweet odor from the pail,
A sugar maker’s dream.
With slab of seasoned wood.
Its glowing inferno fed,
Warmth felt from where I stood.
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.
Took my heart to a quiet place
Bench Beside the Bay
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.
It starts as a tiny seed
The Planting of a 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.
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-
Rick will be talking about Robert Frost and about being Vermont’s first Poet Laureate.
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.
The Sound of SnowSnow, it can fall from mid-day sky
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.
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
in the New Year.
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.
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.
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.
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.