The Old Bennington Cemetery is doing a great job maintaining their grounds. For more than 350 years, this cemetery has served Bennington, Vermont and includes several governors, lots of Revolutionary War soldiers and the great (maybe the greatest) 20th century American poet, Robert Frost.
For most of my cemetery visits, I’m alone while I walk among the tombstones. I doubt even a popular grave like Emily Dickinson‘s gets more than one pilgrim per day. On my way to Robert Frost’s grave, I passed three families on their way back to the street and they were speaking French. Frost est très formidable, n’est-ce pas?
His grave is neat and tidy, no gifts from fans allowed. There are three large flat stones. The poet is in the middle where he rests with his wife and the four of his six children who preceded him in death. The stone to the left has his two daughters who survived him plus some grandchildren and a son-in-law. The stone to his right is blank. I assume he reserved that space for even more descendants.
In front of two of the stones they posted copies of two of his famous poems, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening and In a Disused Graveyard. I won’t question the poetic choices made by cemetery management but my favorite of his work and maybe my favorite poem of all time is Nothing Gold Can Stay. He packs so much meaning into a mere forty words arranged in eight rhyming lines. Brilliant!
I remember once confessing to a girlfriend some envy of the success of a fellow poet and she consoled me by saying, “You’re not competing with them. You’re competing with Shakespeare.” And I think I have a shot against Shakespeare, since I’m writing with 500 years of giant shoulders to stand upon but against Frost, my best hope is to be a pale imitation or a mildly amusing parody.