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Old 09-05-2018, 02:24 PM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Default Gravesite

The Great Fire

At lunch, they ask me where to find the grave
of Alexander Hamilton. “The other
side,” I tell them, pointing to the nave
and tower-shadowed trees. “I hate to bother
you...." Don’t tell me... Hamilton. The same.
Tomorrow I should think to bring a sign:
The Other Side of Trinity [an arrow
pointing right], and sit back from the line
of tourists searching wide-eyed on the narrow
paths between the headstones for a name
that Broadway brought to light outside the oldest
steeple on a precipice and port
of no return, September at its coldest
in a New York City of another sort,
more human-scale and redolent of flame.

Title was: Trinity Churchyard

Line 5 was: you...” Another comes. I give the same

Line 6 was: directions. I should one day bring a sign.

Line 7: “sit back” was “disengage”

Line 15: “and redolent of” was “. Susceptible to”

Last edited by Rick Mullin; 09-06-2018 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 09-05-2018, 02:56 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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I like the poem, Rick. You need a space after the quotation marks in L3. I do wonder why flame is mentioned in the last line, since everything is susceptible to flame (notably the World Trade Center, in recent memory). So where is the contrast?

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Old 09-05-2018, 03:13 PM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Thanks Susan,

The contrast is meant to be between 1776 (Hamilton's time) and 2018. The direct reference is to the burning down of the entire city as it stood on September 21, 1776. At that time, buildings were far more flammable than the stone, steel, and glass structures that came after. There is an inevitable reflection forward to a much more contained, if infinitely hotter fire on Sept 11, 2001. I think I may need to replace "Susceptible".


Note: Change in line 15

Last edited by Rick Mullin; 09-05-2018 at 04:20 PM.
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Old 09-05-2018, 04:16 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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I'm confused because the fire you suggest was long before Hamilton's duel, so how do you justify the allusion? It reads as if you regularly lunch in that churchyard. On the other hand, my confusion apart, it seems to me more steady than some of yours and that feeling I like.
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Old 09-05-2018, 04:20 PM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Thanks Allen,

Yes, I eat lunch in the graveyard a lot.

But Hamilton had a history prior to the duel. For example,... he fought as an artilleryman and officer in the Continental Army in New York in 1776.
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Old 09-05-2018, 11:31 PM
John Jeffrey John Jeffrey is offline
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I quite like this—until “September” and the final three lines, which seem to take the poem in a direction other than where it was headed. Up to that point, we have a harried N, annoyed at the parade of suddenly-interested tourists, and then comes what I thought was the crux of the poem: Hamilton’s newfound fame through, of all places, a Broadway musical, and the contrast of that improbable neon-lighted celebrity against the real history in the “narrow paths between the headstones” and the “oldest steeple” in the graveyard of a 300+ year-old church.

But that never happens. Instead, there’s suddenly mention of September in a “New York City of another sort”? And of course I’m thinking 9/11 because, as with most people, mentioning September and NYC = 9/11. But I’m not sure why I’m there. I was with an irritated N and tourists and Hamilton and Broadway. And what’s the “port of no return”?

It’s a tenuous connection anyway, since Hamilton was almost certainly not a member of that church in 1776 when it burned in the NYC fire, though he attended years later after it changed from Anglican to Episcopal.

I think you should continue on the theme of old/new, history/entertainment, etc., through the eyes of the irritated N. (Which means the title should change to.)

--John J

By the way, I love the rhyme scheme. Is that something named, or is it your own invention?
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Old 09-06-2018, 03:22 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is online now
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I just finished reading, and I heartily enjoyed this piece. Indeed. I have no suggestions at the moment. I register, if nothing else, my enthusiastic appreciation.

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Old 09-06-2018, 05:12 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Rick, I forgot to mention in my previous comments that I love the irony of this line: “Don’t tell me... Hamilton.”

It wasn’t “port” that perplexed me (I thought it referred to NYC), but “no return.” But now I understand it. By the way, I just googled “port of no return” and got this:
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Old 09-07-2018, 12:17 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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I like it, Rick. On the first few readings the abrupt - I thought - line breaks of the opening bothered me, until I came to think that they might be meant to stand, in some way, for the interruptions in your lunch occasioned by the visitors.

I think the ending is excellent.


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Old 09-10-2018, 05:35 AM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Thanks Erik and Martin.

Thanks Andrew. Actually, what looks like an open quote before Don't tell me is a close quote from the tourist's interruption that starts in the line above.

"human scale," of course, refers to the size of the buildings, but also refers to human interaction. I think it works--the interaction between the narrator and gawking tourists is sort of low on the "human" scale.

Glad you like it. It really is a beautiful place to eat lunch.

Thanks Jim. I finished reading Chernow's "Grant" a few weeks ago and am now half way through his "Washington: A Life." I suppose I'll have to read his "Hamilton," which was what launched Miranda on the musical.

Hi David,
Yes the first "pentrain" is very jump-cut. That wasn't done on purpose, and was very prominent in the first draft. It results, I guess, from adding dialogue to the rhyme and meter, or vice versa. But I do think it portrays interruption and contrasts effectively with the steady flow after what would be a high volta as N "sits back." Thanks.

Thanks folks,
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