Wednesday, November 20, 2013


The inscriptions in the churchyard tell us when they came
and went away,
but nothing of the hardship,
of the tears, of the disappointment,
of the heroism, of the greater heroism.
Even when life on this globe is over
and the globe itself dissolves
into its original nebula:
from points of space so distant,
our sun will appear
but a twinkling star
and from future time so immense
as to be measured only by millenniums,
these pictures will be reproduced.

We shall soon sleep
in the dust with our fathers.
As the centuries roll by,
the same bright sun and azure sky by day
and the glorious constellations by night;
the same hills and valleys and rivulets and gray old ocean
that now form our lovely landscape
will remain and greet the eyes
of the coming generations of men and women
and of little children playing in our streets.

The part I have acted,
the scenes I have witnessed,
the friends I have walked with,
the bright days, the rising and setting suns,
the silvery moonlight, the fields and woods,
the roads and by-paths,
the lovely hillsides and lowly vales,
the sweet songs of birds
and the roar of the ocean
will be remembered and reviewed
thousands and millions of years
after I have left
the shores of time.

It was given to me, in the nineteenth century,
to spend a lifetime on this earth.
Along with a few of the sorrows that are appointed unto men
I have had innumerable enjoyments;
and the world has been to me, even from childhood,
a great museum.

 Lydia Davis published these lines earlier this year in the New Directions Poetry Pamphlet series. The second volume issued in that new series was called Two American Scenes and consisted of one work each by two different authors  Our Village by Lydia Davis and A Journey on the Colorado River by Eliot Weinberger.

Lydia Davis added an Author Note to her contribution  "Our Village, a memoir by Sidney Brooks (1813-1887), my great-great-grandmother's younger brother, was among the family papers inherited by my father, and took the form of three handwritten school copybooks. Eventually donated by my father to the Harwich Historical Society, it was faithfully transcribed by volunteers, who reproduced its occasional errors, repetitions, and cross-outs, and published in 1995. The Historical Society is housed in the very premises of the school that Sidney so lovingly designed, built, and presided over for twenty years, the Pine Grove Seminary. It is with the Historical Society's permission that this adapted extract is published."

The black-and-white photographs were taken (by me, some while ago) on a fine bright afternoon in Mission Dolores graveyard.