The Little Graves

Discussion in 'General Chatter' started by Chimp, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. Chimp

    Chimp Moderator & Cheeky Human IMP Staff Member

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    The Little Graves - By Seba Smith (1792–1868)

    T'was autumn, and the leaves were dry,
    And rustled on the ground,
    And chilly winds went whistling by
    With low and pensive sound.

    As through the grave-yards' lone retreat
    By meditation led,
    I walked with slow and cautious feet
    Above the sleeping dead,--

    Three little graves, ranged side by side,
    My close attention drew;
    O'er two the tall grass, bending, sighed,
    And one seemed fresh and new.

    As lingering there I mused awhile
    On death's long, dreamless sleep,
    And morning life's deceitful smile,
    A mourner came to weep.

    Her form was bowed, but not with years,
    Her words were faint and few,
    And on those little graves her tears
    Distilled like evening dew.

    A prattling boy, some four years old,
    Her trembling hand embraced,
    And from my heart the tale he told
    Will never be effaced.

    "Mamma, now you must love me more,
    For little sister's dead;
    And t'other sister died before,
    And brother, too, you said.

    "Mamma, what made sweet sister die?
    She loved me when we played;
    You told me, if I would not cry,
    You'd show me where she's laid."

    "'Tis here, my child, that sister lies,
    Deep buried in the ground,
    No light comes to her little eyes,
    And she can hear no sound."

    Mamma, why can't we take her up,
    And put her in my bed?
    I'll feed her from my little cup,
    And then she won't be dead.

    "For sister'll be afraid to lie
    In this dark grave to-night,
    And she'll be very cold, and cry
    Because there is no light."

    "No, sister is not cold, my child,
    For God, who saw her die,
    As He looked down from heaven and smiled,
    Called her above the sky.

    "And then her spirit quickly fled
    To God to whom twas given;
    Her body in the ground is dead,
    But sister lives in heaven."

    "Mamma, won't she be hungry there,
    And want some bread to eat?
    And who will give her clothes to wear,
    And keep them clean and neat?"

    "Papa must go and carry some,
    I'll send her all I've got,
    And he must bring sweet sister home,
    Mamma, now must he not?"

    "No, my dear child, that cannot be;
    But if you're good and true,
    You one day can go to her,
    But she can never come to you.

    "Let little children come to me,
    Once our good Saviour said;
    And in his arms she'll always be,
    And God will give her bread.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
  2. Half Hour

    Half Hour Well-Known Member

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    :( That brought big tears.... made me think of my grandmother who lost 2 sisters and a baby brother and her mother all in the space of about 3 months in the Spring of 1893. Beautiful poem.
     
  3. Sis

    Sis Rootles out resources!

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    :(
     
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  4. Chimp

    Chimp Moderator & Cheeky Human IMP Staff Member

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    I was searching the world newspapers for something completely different when I came across the first verse of this poem, it sounded so lovely I had to go look it up.

    Whilst reading it the images were flooding my imagination. How that poor mother must have felt. The 2 graves with tall grass because the mother found it too hard to attend the graves. The inquisitive 4 year old boy not knowing (yet) the true meaning of death, the trust he had in his father being able to make everything right and bring his sister back. The loving way in which his mother tried to explain it to him. Quite a moving poem.
     
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  5. AnnB

    AnnB Editor in Chief who is Hot off the Press!

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    The thing that really strikes me, is just how many of our ancestral families can relate to those words :(
     
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  6. Findem

    Findem The Fearless One

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    It reminds me of a market at Cobbity in NSW my wife and I visited many years ago, going back to our car we popped into the Church Yard. It was a chilling and sobering experience, there were so many children buried there due to an epidemic. You'd see several graves with children from one family, some graves were of one or both parents and several children, it made me wonder how many children were orphaned. Neither of us said much on the drive back to Wollongong I think we were too busy trying to control emotions, we both lost it in the churchyard, I've never forgotten that experience.
     
  7. Findem

    Findem The Fearless One

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    I've often wondered how my great grandparents George and Sarah Theobald coped, they had 14 children, 8 of those children didn't reach 3 years old. After Sarah died in 1902 they lost a son to WW1 and two of Sarah's brothers died in that war.
    George lived until 1916 when he was run over by a runaway Army horse and cart in Chelmsford, a very unlucky family.
     
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  8. Sis

    Sis Rootles out resources!

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    :(
     
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  9. Half Hour

    Half Hour Well-Known Member

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  10. gillyflower

    gillyflower Always caring about others

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    Beautiful Poem :)
     
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  11. Bay Horse

    Bay Horse Can be a bit of a dark horse

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    Since the GRO introduced the searchable birth and death indexes (indices?), it's easy to find how many extra little ones were born and died between the census, without being baptised. One family I am currently working on had nine, none of whom survived beyond two years. How on earth did they bear the heartache? Yet this wasn't at all uncommon for the time.

    So often the cause was simple childhood ailments that we don't even worry about nowadays. 'Teething' comes up frequently on death certificates in my lot. Thank goodness for advances in medicine.
     
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  12. MollyMay

    MollyMay Knows where to find the answers!

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    My Nan in the early 1900/10's, had 12 live births (that I know of), 6 of which only lived for a matter of days. Of the 6 who survived infanthood another died aged 5 - just how do you deal with that as a mum?:(
     
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  13. Ma-dotcom

    Ma-dotcom A Bonza Little Digger!

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    My Mother's only brother & his wife had twins who died possibly at birth- I haven't found them listed on either , their next & last child died from Diptheria aged 5. I've always found them to be so heart-achey, & evidently such nice people. Wish I'd met them.
     
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  14. Nightryder

    Nightryder Well-Known Member

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    Bay Horse, it seems odd today to think of any baby dying from teething, I'm just wondering if they could have had high fevers & convulsions, which according to my mum is what happened to me.
     
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  15. Bay Horse

    Bay Horse Can be a bit of a dark horse

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    You're right, Nightryder. High temperature in an infant can be dangerous (commonly associated with teething) and may cause convulsions, as you say. With mine, paracetamol syrup was a Godsend.
     
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  16. Ma-dotcom

    Ma-dotcom A Bonza Little Digger!

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    Having I'net probs here tonight, didn't want to let me in. :( I do wonder if it may be win10 putting the boot in to change over as I now have a laptop with win 10- same email addy. Possibly causing mental anguish to win folk.
    Not too-too good with that yet.
     
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