Saturday, October 31, 2009

Forgotten Graveyards

I decided on my poem today after visiting one of my favorite blogs, Life at Willow Manor.  Today, Willow wrote about steles, stone markers or slabs, used as monuments in cemeteries.  She went on to include some wonderful cemetery pictures and to discuss symbols used in tombstone art.  You can visit this blog at:

I have always loved visiting cemeteries, especially old ones at small country churches.  In days gone by, before the era of interstates and freeways, I would frequently stop in my travels, to take a break wandering among tombstones, wondering about the residents.  Many of the graveyards seemed bedraggled and forgotten but, every now and then, a grave would stand out, well tended, with fresh flowers, indicating someone in the vicinity still cared about the deceased buried there.

As a student nurse in New Orleans, I spent many hours at the wonderful cemeteries, "cities of the dead," for which that city is famous.  Because of the high water table of the city, burial is made in vaults above the ground.  Wealthy families have tombs with crypts that are most ornate, with wrought iron gates and beautiful statuary.  More than one family member can be buried in the same vault as long as the previous resident has been deceased for two years.  The remains of that person are then placed in a special burial bag which is placed to the back or side of the vault, his or her coffin is destroyed, then there is room for the newly deceased family member.

When I was a new bride, my husband was stationed at Hanscom Field in the Lexington - Concord area of Massachusetts.  What a wonderful place that was for old cemeteries, with very famous residents from Revolutionary times.  Our group of Air Force wives would venture out, armed with colored wax and sheets of paper to do gravestone rubbings, especially on warm days, then we would lunch at some wonderful historic inn.

A few years ago, for a writing site in which I participate, I penned this poem, "Forgotten Graveyards."  Willow's blog, today, remind me of it.

Forgotten Graveyards

I walk and stir the fallen leaves,
And think of those at rest,
Crumbling gravestones all around,
Which make me feel depressed.

Why this toddler's young demise?
A mother's pain so long ago
Sobs on a cold November morn,
As blustery winds would blow.

This one is a soldier's grave,
Did he die in some far war?
Longing for his love back home,
Life ebbing to a cannon's roar.

This man lived a hundred years,
He saw so much of life,
Were they years of happiness,
Or were they filled with strife?

This tree shades a woman,
"Beloved" the tombstone reads,
And yet her resting place displays,
Neglect and countless weeds.

Are they all forgotten?
Once loved but abandoned here,
To wait out all eternity
With no one to shed a tear.

Carmen Henesy

Copyright (c) 2007 by Carmen Henesy All rights reserved.


  1. I, too love walking through graveyards. Just reading the headstones, figuring out their ages, wondering what they died from, and yes I loved seeing graves that were kept up by those who loved them and sad when I'd see a neglected one and have been known to pull weeds and tidy those graves up as best I could. My dad and I use to do this quite often, and many thought us morbid.....:-) Hugs

  2. Hi Carmen, like Bernie I am intrigued by the wording on headstones.
    Thank you for followng my blogs. I tried to reach earlier today without fail, I think the internet was having one of its turns. But here I am, I found you second time of trying.

  3. Hi Carmen
    That was a very poignant poem!

    My husband and I do volunteer research at a National Historic landmark cemetery here in Brooklyn, NY that dates back to 1858. We are helping the cemetery historian identify the graves of Civil War veterans so that we can place Federal issue grave makers for them if they don;t have any, or restore the gravestones that they have. Some very interesting stories have resulted from this project that can be found on my blog under the label "Green-Wood Cemetery.
    Hugs, Pat

  4. your words honour those forgotten

    i love this line:

    'Life ebbing to a cannon's roar.'


  5. I've lived in New Orleans for five years before, and I know what you mean about the amazing cemeteries there. They're very interesting!

    Perfect description in your wonderful poem..

  6. Wonderful words!

  7. i love cemeteries as well. i took photos at one yesterday. your poem touched me; it has so much feeling. i often think about the story behind the people laid to rest. it's as if their stories are being whispered out into the world. we just have to be attuned and listen hard to receive their message.

    take care and thanks for your sweet words on my blog!

  8. Happy Halloween! Wonderful poem!

  9. nice poem
    i also like old churches and cemeteries.

  10. Very poignant Carmen and makes you think about all the stories that lie below those headstones.

  11. Anonymous1:32 PM

    not sure I love walking thorugh graveyards, but have done once in awhile. When I go back home I always go pay my respect to my loved ones, I do have to admitt, I do walk throughout, I guess reading the inscriptions, wondering how they died, why so young, and I am one who cannot go past a grave and not say a prayer or place a flower of some sort , even just talk . Some make me feel as if they were put there and long forgotten. Sad.

    This poem made me emotional, REMEMBERING!!
    You are truly a beautiful poet. I am so glad you commented on my blog awhile back. Your write with soul. Blessings

  12. Poignant poem, Carmen. It moves us, it makes us think... it's beautiful!

    I find it interesting to walk in cemetries too.

  13. I'd love to walk around a "N'awlins" cemetery one day.

  14. I like this! I think old graveyards are like story books with some of the pages missing!

    You have earned a link for a month for being a top commenter at My Quality Day. I'll have it posted soon.

  15. Beautiful poem. Thanks for sharing.

    Every time I'm in Ohio, I visit my family's cemetery-- Some of the stones date back to the Civil War. I've been going there for my entire life. It's a peaceful place filled with so many memories.


  16. there is something in cemeteries that i actually find peaceful. i love your poem too, it makes me ponder on life's wonderful memories and the important things about life.