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“The Great Dune” was one of the works in Gilbert Byron’s book of Delaware Poems, published in 1943. Born in Chestertown, Md. in 1903, Byron wrote novels, essays, and newspaper columns in addition to poems. His was was so tied to his home turf that he earned nicknames like “The Voice of the Chesapeake” and “the Chesapeake Thoreau.” He did much of his work in a modest little cabin in the countryside north of Easton, Md. You can visit that cabin while hiking at the Pickering Creek Audubon Center, where it has been preserved and restored.

I am posting this during springtime of 2021, trying to help all of us get past the last bits of cold weather here and gear up for the coming beach season. There are a few extra photos down below the poem, so keep scrolling … Here is the poem:

The Great Dune

It is a long way
To the Great Dune;
A mile of waving marsh,
Two miles that lay
Along the curving beach,
Soon the sand
Stings the cheek.

Where old piers stagger
Down the beach
We lean our bodies
On ocean winds
And that is where
The fun begins.

The sand is a treasure trove,
Lined with opals and ruby stones,
Shells of tortoise, crested foam
Which laps our feet
And hurries the sandpiper
Along the beach.

Hand wrought nails
In the whitening rib,
Thoughts of pirates,
Captain Kidd.
And always a chance
That one may find
A gold doubloon
From the captain’s mine.

And soon we reach
The Great Dune,
Where the salty winds
Play a plastic tune.
Rills and ripples
And waves that stand,
All of sand.

Gilbert Byron at Cabin

The author at his cabin in the woods

We make great tracks
For all to see,
Tumble down the sides,
Mix sand and glee.
Again we climb
This soft, white form,
Our Matterhorn.

We sail smooth shells
Through the ocean blue,
We match the gulls’
True flight.
When the setting sun
Gilds the dune,
A yellow mountain, cold,
We follow the path
Toward the pot of gold.

And far in the distance
Across the sand,
We behold an ancient land,
Church spires shining,
A medieval town,
As we go singing,
Homeward bound.

–posted by Jim Duffy on March 21, 2021 and updated in April 2023.


Womann on Betterton Beach 1926

Woman on Betterton Beach 1926

• My friend Ron Sauder runs Secant Publishing, which has republished a couple of Byron’s books in recent years. Secant also publishes a number of other regional writers.

• The region’s used bookstores are another source of Byron’s works.

• The photo up top here is from days gone by in Bethany Beach, Del. I came across it in a book titled Bethany Beach Memoirs by James D. Meehan. It should be available in bookstores by the beach.


Sunrise at Cape Henlopen

Sunrise at Cape Henlopen by Jill Jasuta. Click on photo for more info.



Rehoboth Beach in the 1920s

Rehoboth Beach in the 1920s


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