From Guilford’s Boston Street I dart through the stone pillars of Alder Brook Cemetery. In this thickly settled sculpture garden of the gone, Fitz-Greene Halleck, only poet forever on the trail, has slept since 1867. Standing beside his granite obelisk, I give voice to his poem “Connecticut,” describing “this rough land of earth, stone and tree.” Clearly he belongs to this path.
Once as well known as Longfellow, he was called an American Byron. Immortalized in New York’s Central Park with the first statue celebrating an American poet, he sits there eternally atop a stone pedestal grasping a book and gazing into the distance. President Hayes unveiled him in 1877 before a crowd of thousands.
Today his name is all but unknown, even to poets. His work is rarely heard. “One of the few, the immortal names that were not born to die,” I read on his stone, and hold my breath.
Paper or carved stone
stanzas hunger for readers
words are quickly buried.
(Haibun is a marriage of prose and haiku. It was first practiced by seventeenth-century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho who perfected the form in a journal he kept on a trip to the remote regions of northern Japan. Gary Snyder, James Merrill, and Jack Kerouac are among American interpreters of the genre. Haibun best expresses the spirit of the New England Trail because it combines clear-eyed prose descriptions of people, objects and places along with poetry that awakens the imagination.)
The New England National Scenic Trail, a unit of the National Park Service, runs 215 miles from Guilford, Connecticut to the Massachusetts/ New Hampshire border. The trail is maintained by volunteers of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association in Connecticut and the Appalachian Mountain Club in Massachusetts. For more go to https://newenglandtrail.org/