A Beautiful Sadness

This is in response to a prompt from Stuart McPherson over at dVerse.  I wish I had a photo to put with it, but the closest I’ve got is a sketch I did with quill and ink several years ago while visiting this place.  This is about a country road in the tiny village of Ashford Hollow, NY where several generations of my ancestors lived, and the old graveyard on the hill there where they are buried.

A Beautiful Sadness

A windswept hill

Along a lonely country road

Where rustic farmhouses barely changed

In over a hundred years

Dot the forested hillsides

Sitting amongst golden fields of hay

And the leafy green rows

Of corn fluttering in the breeze

And the cows lowing serenely

Behind post fences

 

This is home

Though I have never lived on this hill

The blood in my veins recalls

Days of horse drawn wagons

And self-reliance

 

There

Across the field

Stood the homestead where

My grandmother was born

And there

Just down the dusty dirt road

Her parents, grandparents, great-grandparents

Lived, worked, played, loved

Helping to settle and tame the wilderness

 

And here they are still

On this windy country hilltop

Gathered together

Beside the corn stalks and pastures

Weather beaten stones of grey and white

Look out over the valley

Silent as the bones beneath my feet

Unable to answer

All the questions I could ask them

But greeting me in their silence

And welcoming me home

Ink sketch looking from the Dutch Hill Road cemetery across the valley to Rocks Springs Road, Ashford Hollow, NY

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17 thoughts on “A Beautiful Sadness

  1. you paint a beautiful scene of the countryside, interwoven with a rich family history and the strong feeling to belong…feels a bit like coming home for me..

  2. This is lovely, I could so relate to all the feelings… I live in farm country, my view across the street is one long cornfield. I love the weaving of history and scenery and longing.

  3. Silent as the bones beneath my feet

    Unable to answer

    All the questions I could ask them

    But greeting me

    love that bit right there…so much of home…and home carries the good and bad memories but it is always home as well….sounds about like where i grew up….really nice touches in this…

  4. What a fabulous poem about viewing your family home ~ it’s such a privilege to be able to return to where our ancesters lived. A lovely poem, David, I too live in the country and would love to think that one day my family ~ yet to be born ~ might come to see where I lived. Beautiful ~ the serenity ~ the welcoming you home ~ just beautiful.

    • Thank you, Polly. It really is great to be able to visit places like this. Luckily for me, both my Mother and Father’s families have lived in the same general area (within about 40 miles of my hometown) for almost 200 years. The first time I ever visited that graveyard on the hill, I was immediately struck by how beautiful the place is, how little it has changed since the turn of the last century, and by the sense of history knowing that I was walking in the footsteps of my ancestors.

  5. Beautifully descriptive- and I love the line ‘this is home- even though I’ve never lived on this hill’- its the interplay between the beautifully romantic setting, and the depth of history, the knowledge of life and death- that makes this poem so beautifully sad- very skilfully written

    • Thank you very much. I’m glad I was able to get across both the beauty of that place and the sadness of wishing I could have known the people beneath those 100 year old tombstones. The feeling of peace I get whenever I have the chance to visit that hill makes me feel they are still there watching over their old homes. And welcoming me there. 🙂

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