October 16th, 2012

Ashes

My mother and father were both very close to their parents but never raised any sort of memorial to them when they died. My sister says they never even collected their ashes from the crem. We were talking about this last night. She finds it odd. I don't- not particularly.  Ashes are only ashes. They're not the person. The person is gone. I have never had the slightest wish to go stand beside my grandparents' (non-existent) graves- and I was very fond of them too. The spirit goes on to other adventures, the person lives in the memory of the living for as long as is appropriate. What more do you need? 

A Propos The Last Post

I've been pottering round churchyards and old churches all my adult life. It's a hobby of mine. And one of the first things you realize when you're pottering is that stones usually outlast the particular persons they're supposed to commemorate. You can win "immortality" by writing a book or winning (or losing) a battle but not by having a great bit of masonry plonked over your mortal remains.

Here's a poem I wrote 40 years ago. It's more hi-falutin' than anything I'd put my name to today, but it is a Duchess who's speaking. Picture one of those grandiose 17th century tombs with marble or alabaster effigies of the deceased kneeling on top.

The Duchess And Her Statue

A generation sees
My tawdry pass from mind.
Men learn what verities
Of statecraft lurked behind
The perished fripperies.
Another has her season.
My much vaunted beauty
By the artist's treason
Is resolved to stone.
By his grace alone
I who held in fief
A state must hold my fame.
I have changed my name.
He has named me "Grief".

P.S. I won't be replying to comments for a few days because- ha- I'm going to a wake.