Walt, born 1819. He moved around frequently
but at the end of his life
he settled where I started – New Jersey –
which has more poetry than most imagine,
and ghosts reciting from Camden to Newark.
Walt Whitman’s home on Mickle St. in Camden, New Jersey
Wax or plaster cast of a face.
A primitive, accurate photo without a camera.
Memento, or basis for a later portrait.
Eerily real, every feature, with some distortions
from the weight of plaster and death.
Death mask of the poet Dante Alighieri who wrote The Divine Comedy. He died September 13, 1320 from malaria.
A funeral rime for one who considered
spirits, drugs and zombies in his life
and whose remains in a lead coffin
journeyed from chapel to church wine cellar.
Toast a blood-red wine to his life.
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ELIZABETH BROCKWAY/THE DAILY BEAST
Read more: smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/poet-samuel-taylor-coleridges-casket-rediscovered-former-wine-cellar-180968811/
The Passaic River is
on its journey to the sea by
in Paterson, New Jersey
that inspire poets,
lovers and photographers.
My screen shows
a couple on the bridge
we all pause
a moment –
I allow the water
to move them
ever so slightly,
then take the picture.
Here lies all that was once mortal.
An empty page of a short life.
He who wondered “Can death be sleep,
when life is but a dream?” now
knows more than we want to know.
John Keats’ tombstone in Rome
John Keats’ birthday was on Halloween. This poem was inspired by his tombstone. While caring for his brother who was dying of tuberculosis, John contracted the disease himself. He died in Rome early in 1821, at the age of 25. He had wanted his gravestone to carry this one beautiful line: “Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water,” but his two closest friends added a message as a way to attack some of the poet’s critics. This has always stuck me as so very wrong. They added: “This Grave contains all that was mortal, of a YOUNG ENGLISH POET, who on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his heart, at the Malicious Power of his enemies, desired these words to be Engraven on his Tomb Stone.”
Can death be sleep, when life is but a dream,
And scenes of bliss pass as a phantom by?
The transient pleasures as a vision seem,
And yet we think the greatest pain’s to die.
How strange it is that man on earth should roam,
And lead a life of woe, but not forsake
His rugged path; nor dare he view alone
His future doom which is but to awake.