J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, July 04, 2014

The Bunker Hill Poetic Challenge Winner!

Thanks to all the Boston 1775 readers who took up the Bunker Hill Poetic Challenge! They were Joseph Sullivan, Dr. Sam Forman, Marshall Stack, R. Doctorow, John Johnson, Michael Lynch, Chip O, Facebook’s Committee of Correspondence, and G. Lovely. It was truly gratifying to see that response to a challenge I wasn’t sure anyone would enjoy.

After reviewing the rules, the staff had to eliminate some entries because they didn’t match the announced criteria, but we appreciate those efforts nonetheless.

That left enough verses to make a difficult choice, especially with my fondness for limericks as a way to comment on serious historical events. But in the end the prize goes to this entry:

When dawn reveal’d the Rebel fort,
One Abercrom was heard to retort,
“With one advance we shall win the day!”
Alas, it did not turn out that way.

“Another charge and we no doubt win!”
Said Howe. “Let the next advance begin!”
Yet failure again was their reward—
Samuel Paine thought it quite untoward.

Whilst over in Boston, Gage did muse
“What evil trick do these Rebels use?
Oh Mars! Reveal their secret power!
How can they hold out hour ’pon hour?”

In fact, ’twas all due to Snelling’s drinks—
Or so his son would have us thinks.
Those lines from R. Doctorow not only offer some iambic tetrameter to a world that sorely needs it, but they allude to this Boston 1775 posting. Alluding to the judges’ own work is always useful in scholarly competitions.

So R., please send me an email or comment with your surface-mail address, and I’ll ask the publisher of Bunker Hill: A City, A Battle, A Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick to send you a complimentary copy.

Honorable mention goes to Michael Lynch, who took himself out of competition for the book, for this fine five-line overview of the battle:
While stuck inside Boston’s bubble,
The British burned Charlestown to rubble.
They carried the hill,
But so many were killed
That it really was not worth the trouble.
And once again, thanks to all who took part. Happy Independence Day!

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