I’m working on the wording for Dennis’ headstone. I imagine writing an epitaph for somebody you knew and loved is hard enough. Writing one for a person who you never knew at all, only from papers and other people’s memories, is… well let’s say it’s difficult.
I want to honour his life in Tamborine Mountain, the life he chose, as well as his time in the army, and the family that he left. I also want to not dishonour the children he abandoned – no matter how good his reasons for leaving were, leave he did, and they faced the consequences.
So, here’s what I’m thinking.
Dennis William “Tommy” Trinder
“There is some corner of a foreign field that is forever England.“
The “Tommy” is what his friends in Tamborine Mountain called him.
The line of verse is from Rupert Brooke’s poem The Soldier, (click for link). I like this for him, because
- It alludes to his time in England, as well as the “foreign field” where he is now
- It is pastoral as the poem goes on – not patriotic about guns and flags, but about suns of home, the air, the ways.
- It points out that he was British without having to say it
- It points out that he was a veteran without having to say it
- It alludes to the fact that he hasn’t had a stone for the last 40 years, but still the “corner of a foreign field” was his.
- The last line of the poem is the “suns of home,” which could be read as a dual meaning – the “sons” of home.
I feel like I’m doing this in the dark a bit, so if anybody has any comments, I’d welcome it. I have considered “much missed, never forgotten,” which has the benefit of being at least true, and alluding to his disappearance as well.
All suggestions welcome. Halp!