Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fragments of a life

Fragment.
---------------------------The western gale,
Mild as the kisses of connubial love,
Plays round my languid limbs, as all dissolved,
Beneath the ancient elm's fantastic shade
I lie, exhausted with the noontide heat:
While rippling o'er his deep worn pebble bed,
The rapid rivulet rushes at my feet,
Dispensing coolness.-----On the fringed marge
Full many a floweret rears its head,---or pink,
Or gaudy daffodil.---'Tis here, at noon,
The buskin'd wood-nymphs from the heat retire,
And lave them in the fountain; here secure
From Pan, or savage satyr, they disport;
Or stretch'd supinely on the velvet turf,
Lull'd by the laden bee, or sultry fly,
Invoke the God of Slumber. * * *
* * * * * * * *


I lifted this fragile, crumbling book from a box, blowing the dust off its jacket, and opened it to this poem - a fragment of a poem. I read it in the bright sunlight, savoring the warmth of the sun on my face. The book has been in my family since 1855 and bears the inscription of my third great grandfather, Samuel Galitzen Newton. The introduction was also written by the Reverend John Todd, another in my ancestry, on my mother's side.

The book is Henry Kirke White's "Memoir and Poetical Remains - Also Melancholy Hours", published in 1853.

It snowed yesterday, and today I awoke to sunny breezes, with the morning mercury bottomed out at eleven degrees. This box packing and truck loading experience has been cathartic - if tedious and strenuous at the same time. Treasures and memories lie in wait in almost every box. I found my sterling silver baby cup. Found photos of trips and events and milestones in life that I had completely forgotten. Love letters. This book of H.K. White's poetry.

Memories upon and within memories. Fragments of a life.

2 comments:

Johanna said...

Very moving, Alex. In every sense of the word :-)

a said...

pure...lovely prose.