Monday, October 25, 2010

Mountain Graveyard by Robert Morgan

Mountain Graveyard by Robert Morgan
Spore Prose

stone      notes
slate       tales
sacred    cedars
heart     earth
asleep    please
hated     death

I am very fond of this poem.  Others that we read evoked responses but this one connected more so than the others.  I find cemeteries to be very quiet but very hard places.  There is really no conversation or stories other than what the markers say and often that is very little.  It could be just a name, a title such as "mother" or short epitaphs.  In my experience, the funny limerick-like epitaphs or poetic epitaphs are very rare.  I have seen very few myself.  Since the markers themselves say very little and are compacted into just a few words (or one for that matter) I thought this poem and its style very appropriate for the subject matter.  It is compact and though says very little using words; it echoes the Spartan feeling of graveyards.  I also like the title.  "Mountain Graveyard" evokes the image of upright gravemarkers jutting out of a small mountain or hill.  Perhaps only one family buried there.  Graveyards often have older tombstones that are decrepit.  It is probably sneaked under trees; perhaps not in rows to accommodate the "cedars" the poem mentions.  I think if the title was "cemetery" or "memorial garden" the reader would imagine something a bit more orderly.  A resting place with statuary, neat rows of tombstones, a caretaker weedwacking and mowing the grass.  A "Mountain Graveyard" sounds wild and unkempt and a place to put, perhaps all the loved ones in a family.  If they are all of one family, they might indeed hate death.  Death is horrible to all, but to go to a graveyard and see ALL of your relatives in one place might be difficult.

Image is from the Worthington Collection; Thomas Chew Worthington III, Maryland

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