Sunday, 24 October 2010

Parakeets and poetry

Sonata and Smitonius today:

We are having a real family week-end, as Sonata is over in London, and we went grave hunting (the way you do). Having discovered that Sonata's great-grandparents were buried in Twickenham Cemetery.

It was an easy grave to find, being close to the entrance, but the grave was in pieces and we needed to re-arrange it to take this picture.

We are hoping, if it doesn't prove too expensive, to have it re-assembled and made secure. The inscription said: "In loving memory of Peter, beloved husband of Dora O'Donnell, died the 8th of June 1916, aged 63 years and their granddaughter May. Darling child of Percy and Anne O'Donnell died 18th June 1918 aged 9 1/2 years. "Until the day dawns". Dora, as it happens, is there too though she has no inscription, having died at the start of the War when people had other priorities. Here is Dora on a British seaside holiday:

But she started life in Kamptee (India) in 1862, the daughter of a military man. And then married a splendid looking Irish bandmaster who took her all over the Empire (as it was). With them, is little Gladys May, their grand-daughter, born in Muree Hills (India), in 1908 and brought up eventually in England by them. Poor little mite had lost her mother, and her father was at war. So it was particularly fitting that the birds circling the trees overhead were, to our surprise, green parakeets. You can see one flying in this photo:

We also received in time for this visit a copy of "The poetry of P.A.T O'Donnell", edited by Robin Gilbert (who also wrote a biographical sketch). Robin was one of his pupils, also a poet, who has worked hard to bring the poems and sketches back into print. P.A.T. was, of course, another descendant of Peter and Dora.

Here is one of his poems, which is quite seasonal:


Furled fall, lemon and rust, in shoals to sleep
in the sun's pools, the legions of the leaves.
False, this deciduous peace.

Autumnal consummation, like a sigh
shaping the heart for rest, an amber draught,
solves the sharp thoughts that tease.


elizabethm said...

Love your last photo and the whole story of your family. It is sad to see graves in that derelict state although, as my husband says cheerfully, they are hardly going to bother now are they! Still hope you can rescue it.

rachel said...

What an interesting excursion! Keep us updated on the grave restoration, won't you.

Rattling On said...

I love grave hunting. My family are all over the place but both sides are being 'done' family-tree wise. Most interesting.
I think grave restorations are very costly, which is why they're left alone in a lot of cases. I like the cross in that position, maybe it could be set in somehow? Your post has spurred me on to find some of the terrible (and a few good) old photos of my own distant rellies.

Tania said...

I came over all goose bumpy reading all that history. How excellent that you've been able to track down that sort of detail - the poem takes the cake.

Jocelyn said...

Deciduous! Reading that word has made me unaccountably happy.

The photo of Dora has done just the same. Oh, to have a photo of each of our ancestors so very lovely.

Molly said...

I love to poke around in old graveyards when I go home to Ireland, especially the one out the country where my maternal g'parents are buried. It is said to be the highest graveyard in all of Ireland.

Your Dora looks just like my granny!

Mountain Thyme said...

Wonderful post. Love the story of that family. Hope you will tell us more.

Why young people today think they are the only ones who love fun and adventure and travel and glorious days is beyond me.

Planet Penny said...

That's a very poignant post, lovely autumny picture at the end.
Penny x

Marcheline said...

This post combines three of my all-time favorites: Old graves, old photos, and great poetry.


Kate on Clinton said...

Wonderful post, and what a lovely poem for a perfect Autumn day (here in Brooklyn).
Good luck with the restoration.

Liz said...

I do love cemeteries. What a great history. I love the photo of Dora on her seaside holiday!!

mountainear said...

However much you know about your family history it always seems a bit of a surprise when parts of their lives cross one's own.

I always find it hard to get to grips with the fact that they too lived their lives in colour - being so used to seeing photographs and documents only in sepia or black and white - yet they too must have enjoyed the greens of springtime and the colours of autumn.