You see a lot of white marble in Washington, D. C. It has been turned into great buildings and monuments by craft workers of many skills. You see much of it at Arlington National Cemetery and other monuments in and around the national capital. Much of it came from the white marble quarry in Danby, Vermont. One notable example is the Jefferson Memorial. Here is a meditation on the marble from that quarry and its evocations for Memorial Day after a summer trip that took us to both Danby, Vermont and the Arlington National Cemetery.
The marble rose from Danby’s depths—alive
with Earth’s fire cooling yet inside its veins.
Now, shaped and polished, carved by craftsmen skilled
in shaping life from stone, returns to shade
the graves of tender men who died before
they lived—the boys whose manhood came with loss
of breath and blood, whose lovers knew but grief
before they knew the grace of tender youth.
A full-bloom rose is carved upon the cold
flat face of polished rock that smoldered once
in fiery caves below the ground that holds
the cold remains of youth who lived and died
unloved. No fragrant flower attends with tears
their passage through these caverns into night.
May 25, 2001