Saturday, June 19, 2010
Poem: Gettysburg Quarry
I have lived in Southwestern Vermont for a year now and had not heard of Gettysburg Quarry until two days ago, when I got wind of a Quarry Walk being sponsored by the Dorset Historical Society. My eleven year old son and I joined the walk this morning and along with twelve others, made our way up the side of Dorset Mountain.
There is a famous quarry in Dorset, the oldest marble quarry in the United States.. It is something of a part these days, with deep water and high cliffs that are a favorite sun bathing place for teenagers in the area, the white marble generally spotted with brightly colored bathing suits in the summer sun. Everyone in the area knows about the Dorset Quarry.
Less known, or at least less talked about, is the fact that there are marble quarries all over the area, most of them reclaimed by trees and greenery that heal the scars of the late 19th century mines. Honestly, you'd have to know these please are there to find them.
We walked up the mountain, stopping occasionally as our guide told us of the history of the mine, and about famous buildings and other places where the marble was used.
In the end, we cane to the quarry hundreds of feet above the village, like discovering a lost city, it's tall faces rising unbelievably high, shining in the morning sun. We grew silent, even the guide, and just took in the spirit of the place. And, as I often do in silent times, I found myself writing poetry in my head.....
A century ago they carved the mountain
into blocks of marble, inert and glistening
in the afternoon sun, it's rippled white face
carried by rumbling ox carts down
to be faced into perfection, giving life
the the New York Library,
and beauty to gravestones in far away
Gettysburg and Arlington, marking graves
for the fodder of wars, silent monuments
of our fable of permanence,
that mere stone, that could wrested
from God's eternal hills,
could somehow mark our passing
more surely than these white stones
now covered with moss
still close to town, yet made invisible
by time and nature, less lasting
than the takes and fables
of loved ones long past, their love and passion lasting
in memory more bright than this marble lurking
in Gettysburg quarry, white, glistening, and forgotten.
As always, you can click on the images for larger versions.