Historical Poetry: Memorial

Historical Poetry: Memorial
Weathered grave markers at Christ Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In this peaceful cemetery lies the remains of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, and other well know people both in their time and in ours. Here, too, there are markers where time and the elements have rendered unreadable.
Memorial
By: Daniel Derasaugh

Here; a crafted stone once stood.
Now weathered and leaning.
Beneath which rests an anonymous life.
How it began, how it was lived;
Now as mysterious as the craftsman,

And how it ended?
Dissolved into the abyss of time.

When looking at old grave markers where the inscriptions have been worn away by time and the elements, it is natural to be curious about who is buried beneath it. Perhaps, too, it is natural to easily dismiss these people as not likely having any historical significance. Yet, they were important enough at least to someone who saw it fit to ensure the location of their burial was marked. We can not simply dismiss them. Their life, whatever it may have been, did have some impact on history. In some way, no matter how small, everyone who has lived has contributed to where we are today.

I wrote Memorial a few months before my trip to the Northeast, but it was not until this trip that I found a perfect location to take a photo for the featured image. Christ Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has many markers that fit the theme of “Memorial”, so this provided the appropriate subjects. The hardest part was trying to decide on which photo was better. I wanted to choose one that honors the poem’s theme, carries a mixed sense of wonder, mystery, and a hint of sadness, along with maintaining a respectful nature.

Benjamin Franklin, the most famous and well known resident at Christ Church Burial Ground, along with Benjamin Rush; another signer of the Declaration of Independence among other significant achievements. Franklin attended  services at the church as well, and his pew is a draw for tourists. While the Benjamins are two of the most famous people buried here, there are others of historical significance. I think will further explore this burial ground in a later post.

The point here is to wonder and lament for the unknowns. Not just weathered markers in Christ Church Burial Ground, but everywhere. My inspiration for “Memorial” came from seeing multiple markets in several cemeteries that have weathered to the point of just being a stone jutting from the ground with surfaces worn away, or the carvings of words so faint they are illegible.

These markers are also a way to put time into perspective with our lives, or our lives into perspective with time. They are reminders that sometimes, despite our best efforts not to be forgotten, time eventually forces the issue.

 

 

 

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The Terrapin Poem

The Terrapin Poem
A hatchling eastern box turtle cautiously crawls along the ground looking for food, and exploring the world.

Another poem post. Now, this is not about anything historical, its actually my first non-history related post since my first one. Nor is it looking at an artifact in a different way. “The Terrapin” is just a fun little poem I recently wrote at my girlfriend’s house, after finishing painting with her. It was a sort of challenge. We were trying to see what kind of poem I could just write out in my little notebook without much thought or planning in a short period of time. Below is what I got. I also did one about a sea horse, but that will take lots of work to polish up. I hope you enjoy!

"The Terrapin"
By: Daniel Derasaugh

A rock?
No, a nice smooth stone.
Rounded and painted by God.

It moves!
A small, cautious step.
It looks around after a pause.

It sees me!
Don’t be scared.
In its head and legs go!

Now again;
a round, painted stone.