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Friday, April 27, 2007

Poets' Graves

I came across a website that combines two of my interests - death and poetry :-) It lists the gravesites of various poets, plus some of their poems and short bios. Here's a poem I like by James Leigh Hunt, and his short biography from the site, below the poem ...

The Nile

It flows through old hushed Egypt and its sands,
Like some grave mighty thought threading a dream,
And times and things, as in that vision, seem
Keeping along it their eternal stands, -
Caves, pillars, pyramids, the shepherd bands
That roamed through the young world, the glory extreme
Of high Sesostris, and that southern beam,
The laughing queen that caught the world's great hands.
Then comes a mightier silence, stern and strong,
As of a world left empty of its throng,
And the void weighs on us; and then we wake,
And hear the fruitful stream lapsing along
Twixt villages, and think how we shall take
Our own calm journey on for human sake.


James Leigh Hunt is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London. Also buried here is Thomas Hood.

Although a fine poet in his own right Hunt is mainly remembered for publishing poetry by Keats, Byron and Shelley. In 1816 Hunt published Keats's sonnet O Solitude in the Examiner and in 1821 La Belle Dame sans Merci in the Indicator.

Hunt was once held for two years in Horsemonger Lane Gaol for calling the Prince Regent "a fat Adonis of fifty". However, he received frequent visits from his friends and continued to edit the magazine in which the libel had appeared.

In 1822 Hunt travelled to Italy to be with Byron and Shelly in order to publish his new journal The Liberal. However, within days of his arrival in Italy Shelley drowned and Byron subsequently lost interest in the project.

Hunt was present at the famous cremation of Percy Bysshe Shelley on the shore of Via Reggio in 1822. Shelley's heart was removed by Edward Trelawny and initially passed to Hunt who later handed it to Mary Shelley. However, Hunt took a piece of Shelley's jawbone from the cremation and kept it on his desk for the rest of his life.

It is said that Dickens based the figure of Skimpole in Bleak House< on Hunt.

- Hunt's gravestone


Blogger Susan Tyler Hitchcock said...

Leigh Hunt, his wife Marianne, and their crowd of children (four going on five, as I remember) also lived with Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley in Marlow, outside London, during the early months of 1817, as Mary completed the manuscript for Frankenstein. Read about their shared household in my upcoming book FRANKENSTEIN: A CULTURAL HISTORY, to be published by W. W. Norton in October 2007.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Liam said...

The site is nice, though a bit Anglo-centric. They only list one poet buried in New York!

8:21 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Susan,

that's interesting. Have you seen the movie "Rowing with the Wind"? I don't know how historically accurate it is but it shows Shelley and Byron and Mary together when the idea for Frankenstein came to her (at Byron's place in Switzerland) ... also Shelley's death. I can't remember if Hunt was in it.

10:08 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Liam,

that reminds me of an episode of Buffy the Vanpire Slayer. The librarian, Giles, Buffy asked him for a book of poems by Emily Dickinson, and he said she wasn't a bad poet, for an American :-)

10:11 AM  
Blogger cowboyangel said...

I don't think it's strange to want to know where people are buried. I've done a lot of research on where famous jazz musicians are buried and have thought of writing about that. We should respect our elders, and a pilgrimage to their burial site seems a worthy thing to do. Outside of the U.S., I think it's fairly common.

Strange, I thought, that they don't list T.S. Eliot or Sylvia Plath, both of whom had connections to the UK.


If you did the Search by Location, it only shows one poet in NY, but it's not comprehensive for some reason. I saw 2 other poets buried in NY - Frank [O'Hara], out near where I live, and Langston Hughes, whose ashes are under a floorboard in the Schomburg Library!

11:08 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I took this photo of a poet's grave in the public gardens in Sevilla, but I can't remember who it was! Does anyone know? Liam, maybe?

4:07 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

That's an interesting photo, Jeff. Is that a zombie down there at the bottom? :-)

7:03 PM  
Blogger Liam said...

It appears to be a monument to the Romantic poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer .

7:47 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

That's it, Liam. Well done. See, I knew he'd know...

This link says:

"The square dedicated to Bécquer has a statue of him situated on a high pedestal and at its feet two figures representing wounded and wounding love. Next to these are three figures representing full love, dreamed love and lost love. This is the work of Lorenzo Coullaut Varela. They are enclosing a centenary tree which gives a melancholy atmosphere to the monument."

Wounded love... So, "zombies" they may very well be.

2:16 PM  

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