Figure 1. Weide monument. Prospect Hill Cemetery, Washington, D.C. Photo: author.

Prospect Hill’s slowly sinking Weiden monument has not held up well under the assault of the elements (figure 1). Erected in 1878, it is a product of the final decade when marble reigned supreme in the cemetery. Granite, hitherto an outlier, would begin a triumphant march to supremacy in the 1880s and by the 1890s granites of all hues predominated.

The anagraphic data:

GEORGE WEIDE.
BORN JAN. 28, 1835.
DIED JAN. 1, 1878.

Figure 2. Weide monument. Detail: harp with links. Prospect Hill Cemetery, Washington, D.C. Photo: author.

The dirty stone’s rather nice decorative cornices, ribbons, volutes and organic forms are not shown to good effect in my photograph (figure 1). If you look up George Weide in Find a grave dot com you’ll see a better photo taken when the stone was cleaner. Neat is the harp at the top with the three links of the Odd Fellows resting on the top of the cornice below it (figure 2).

Figure 3. Weide monument. Detail: poem. Prospect Hill Cemetery, Washington, D.C. Photo: author.

But you know me! The poem is what caught my eye (figure 3). It’s hard to read, but let’s have a look:

AWAY FROM HOME AND ALL ALONE
WITH NO ONE TO CLOSE HIS EYES
NO ONE TO HEAR HIS DYING WORDS
BUT THOSE ABOVE THE SKIES

Let’s see if we can scan that:

AWÁY FROM HÓME AND ÁLL ALÓNE
WITH NÓ ONE TO CLÓSE HIS ÉYES
NÓ ONE TO HÉAR HIS DÝING WÓRDS
BUT THÓSE ABÓVE THE SKÍES

So, some long patches of iambs with an occasional extra beat thrown in (2, 3), on both occasions through the use of “no one.” Each one causes the verse to skip in three-quarter time for a moment. I am no expert on the substitutions possible in English verse, but I suspect this poet warn’t one, neither. I do note that the problem might be ameliorated by some simple measures (now with punctuation):

Awáy from hóme and áll alóne,      (4 iambs, note the internal rhyme)
With nóne to clóse his éyes;             (3 iambs)
Nóne to héar his dýing wórds,         (3.5 iambs or trochees)
But thóse abóve the skíes.                 (3 iambs)

The tantalizing description of Weide’s harrowing last moments, all alone and far from home, doesn’t offer us much. Soldier? Missionary?

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Arlington, VA

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