Two poems about Whidbey Island by Paul Cunningham (1846 – 1930).
Frontiersman, early South Whidbey settler, and poet Paul Cunningham was profiled in both a previous FB post and in our latest newsletter.
Thanks to his great-great-grandson, Roy Hagglund, for lending the Museum a copy of his poetry book. Here are two poems he wrote about ‘Whidby’ Island.
Take off your hat and stop a while
And kindly have a seat.
I’ll tell you now it makes me smile;
Old Whidby can’t be beat.
Nowhere on earth a grander spot
Can any pilgrim find.
Happy the one casts here his lot;
Beats Bingen on the Rhine.
This is a grander garden spot
Than where Adam got his fall.
Tell your friends to tarry not.
Come now or not at all.
I never boast about my riches
Or my ready wit in store.
I wear bib overalls for breeches
And need but mighty little more.
I can live here without a cent,
Eat clams in high galore,
Kick up my heels and be content
On Whidby’s lovely shore.
Friends, if you’re worn and weary,
Come and tarry here with me;
I will try to make you cheery
On Whidby Island in the sea.
Hold up your head; things might be worse;
Don’t look so sour and blue.
The hand that guides the universe
Rules Whidby Island, too.
No noise or bustle mar your peace
When you are camping out,
But up and down along the beach
The merry bathers shout.
Some in small boats sail about
Upon the waters blue,
Fishing for the salmon trout;
Oft are rewarded, too.
Camping out is just superb,
With small or no expense,
While bear and deer are often stirred
Back in the forest dense.
The climate here is splendid
And always is, I’m told.
For invalids it’s intended
Health’s better far than gold.
This land was here long years ago,
E’re man its jungles trod,
Before his axe had blazed a tree
Or saw had cut a log.
The Indians many seasons spent
A living on this Isle,
Finding game where e’er they went;
were happy all the while.
There’s many things seem queer to me.
I hear the people say
That sailors once rebelled at sea
Right here at Whidby Bay.
Then outlaws had a rendezvous;
From justice here they found,
With nothing very much to do
But sport and hide around.
Then logging camps were organized,
And towering timber fell,
For lumber that was highly prized,
Beyond what I can tell.
Now happy homes along the beach
And inland just as well,
Places where the Gospel’s preached
And kids are taught to spell.
Folks will be here long years to come
While time swings to and fro,
With people who will praise the Lord
Till Gabriel’s trump shall blow.
This is the land of promise,
Or so it seems to me-
A land of fruit and flowers,
Whidby Island in the sea.