Posts Tagged ‘poet’

In St. Patrick’s Park in Dublin, Ireland, there is a long brick wall with what is called the Literary Parade. The wall has a series of niches, each of which houses a plaque of a famous Irish author.

Literary Parade

Beckett (2)

Beckett (1)



Dillon (2)









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Under Ben Bulben
by William Butler Yeats

Ben Bulben (2)

Swear by what the sages spoke
Round the Mareotic Lake
That the Witch of Atlas knew,
Spoke and set the cocks a-crow.

Swear by those horsemen, by those women
Complexion and form prove superhuman,
That pale, long-visaged company
That air in immortality
Completeness of their passions won;
Now they ride the wintry dawn
Where Ben Bulben sets the scene.

Here’s the gist of what they mean.

Ben Bulben (1)

Many times man lives and dies
Between his two eternities,
That of race and that of soul,
And ancient Ireland knew it all.
Whether man die in his bed
Or the rifle knocks him dead,
A brief parting from those dear
Is the worst man has to fear.
Though grave-digger’s toil is long,
Sharp their spades, their muscles strong,
They but thrust their buried men
Back in the human mind again.


You that Mitchel’s prayer have heard,
“Send war in our time, O Lord!”
Know that when all words are said
And a man is fighting mad,
Something drops from eyes long blind,
He completes his partial mind,
For an instant stands at ease,
Laughs aloud, his heart at peace.
Even the wisest man grows tense
With some sort of violence
Before he can accomplish fate,
Know his work or choose his mate.

High Cross (2)

Poet and sculptor, do the work,
Nor let the modish painter shirk
What his great forefathers did,
Bring the soul of man to God,
Make him fill the cradles right.

Measurement began our might:
Forms a stark Egyptian thought,
Forms that gentler Phidias wrought,
Michael Angelo left a proof
On the Sistine Chapel roof,
Where but half-awakened Adam
Can disturb globe-trotting Madam
Till her bowels are in heat,
Proof that there’s a purpose set
Before the secret working mind:
Profane perfection of mankind.

Quattrocento put in print
On backgrounds for a God or Saint
Gardens where a soul’s at ease;
Where everything that meets the eye,
Flowers and grass and cloudless sky,
Resemble forms that are or seem
When sleepers wake and yet still dream,
And when it’s vanished still declare,
With only bed and bedstead there,
That heavens had opened.

Gyres run on;
When that greater dream had gone
Calvert and Wilson, Blake and Claude,
Prepared a rest for the people of God,
Palmer’s phrase, but after that
Confusion fell upon our thought

St. Columba's churchyard (6)

Irish poets, learn your trade,
Sing whatever is well made,
Scorn the sort now growing up
All out of shape from toe to top,
Their unremembering hearts and heads
Base-born products of base beds.
Sing the peasantry, and then
Hard-riding country gentlemen,
The holiness of monks, and after
Porter-drinkers’ randy laughter;
Sing the lords and ladies gay
That were beaten into clay
Through seven heroic centuries;
Cast your mind on other days
That we in coming days may be
Still the indomitable Irishry.

St. Columba's Church (4)

Under bare Ben Bulben’s head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,
By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

Yeats (1)

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Dunbar (2)

Dunbar (3)

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Bellman (2)

Bennett T. Bellman was a man of many hats, as testified by his tombstone. Perhaps most interestingly, I have encountered him as part of my research on others who rest in Cumberland County’s cemeteries. He was one of the authors of History of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and wrote An Historical Sketch of the Borough of Carlisle and The Bench and Bar of Pennsylvania: Cumberland County. The one book of his poetry that I have been able to find referenced is called The Lighter Lyric – And Other Poems. You can also find his poems in various 19th century publications cataloged in Google Books. I found the text of one of his poems, “On the Conodoguinet,” which appealed to me particularly because I grew up near the Conodoguinet Creek and so feel a strange sort of a connection to a man who died more than 70 years before my birth.


When the birds are in the bushes and the sun is in the sky,
Where the golden song of thrush is, when the fleecy clouds are high,
In the balmy air of Springtime, when the blossoms bloom in May,
I take my boat and row and float, far from the world away.

Between blue distant mountains are fair Cumberland’s green hills,
With sunshine on her fields afar and ripples on her rills,
With the blossoms on her branches all ablooming in the May,
In a world that hath no sorrow, in the sunshine of to-day.

Here old Conodoguinet widens with reflections of its trees
That show within its crystal depth unruffled by the breeze,
In its bosom holding fondly there a glimpse of azure sky
Which doth bend, a dome above me, but below me, too, doth lie.

With Nature healthful, pure and sweet, now in her smiling mood,
I fain would lay me at her feet, into her courts intrude,
Learn the deep wisdom here that dwells amid her silent hills
In song of bird in leafy dells, in ripple of her rills.

On yonder looming limestone bluff o’er which the sky doth shine,
I see the oak and elm trees, 1 see the darker pine.
Whose sweet balsamic odor is now wafted on the breeze
Sweeter than perfumed air that blows among Arabian trees.

Within a sylvan scene like this, what soul could e’er repine?
To drink the sunlight here is bliss, like old Olympian wine.
For in the sun and wood and stream, I feel the throbbing heart
Of the great Mother who doth hold us all of her a part.

Her “still small voice” one moment fills the vasty vague immense.
One moment with her pulse I thrill through every wakened sense,
She kindly looks upon me, so ! — my heart hath once beguiled,
And though she turn and leave me, lo! I know she once hath smiled.

So, floating on the stream to-day, I have this lesson learned —
Like to a wandering prodigal to her I have returned,
And fain would let men fight for fame, or learning of the books.
If one may stay with Nature here, beside her running brooks.

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On the subject of occupations, as we were just the other day, I discovered that there were more stones that told you what someone did in life in some of the newer sections of Lake View Cemetery (post 1970s).

Cecile Nevils Clarke is identified first in relationship to her family, but then her stone tells us she was also a nurse.


Similarly, Eleanore Slobin is listed as a wife and mother first, but also an artist.


Presumably, Mort was her husband – a teacher.


Robert Wallace was also a teacher and a poet.


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John Hay

No less illustrious a figure than St. Michael the Archangel stands over the grave of John Hay. Never heard of John Hay? Many people haven’t, but he shaped the diplomatic world of the United States in the late 19th century.

Hay’s rise to political prominence began with a streak of luck – as an aspiring young lawyer, he happened make the acquaintance of an older lawyer in Illinois named Abraham Lincoln. When Lincoln was elected President, he selected Hay as his assistant private secretary, a position Hay held until 1864. Hay served in the Civil War but was still moving in political circles, and was present at Lincoln’s deathbed. He and Lincoln’s secretary John G. Nicolay later published a biography of the slain president.

John Hay

Hay practiced law in the United States and abroad until President Rutherford B. Hayes pointed him as Assistant Secretary of State. President William McKinley made him ambassador to the United Kingdom in 1897. The next year, McKinley named him as Secretary of State. Theodore Roosevelt retained him in the position until Hay died in 1905.

In all of that service, Hay negotiated dozens of treaties, that included defining such things as the boundaries of Alaska and preparing for the construction of the Panama Canal. He was a proponent of the Open Door Policy with China. Overshadowed by his political career, he was also a poet and a writer.

John Hay

And how did John Hay come to be buried in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland? He married Clara Louise Stone, daughter of millionaire Clevelander Amasa Stone, and lived here with her for a time to sort out her late father’s affairs.

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