Tuesday, 5 February 2013

All the dead dears

I am loving the chance to visit lots of museums with our older three kids in Cambridge. (We tend to do the museum visits on the days Dave can work from home for a couple of hours during the middle of the day, while Lydia is having her sleep time). There are so many good museums in Cambridge, and they're all free! At the moment, we're visiting at least one a week and planning to return to many of them more than once in our six months here.

Today we went to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, hoping to see (among other things) some artefacts we'd read about which were dug up from a Celtic burial site just around the corner from the place we are living at the moment. We didn't find them (I don't think they're currently on display - but it's possible we just missed them!), but we found a whole lot of other treasures, including this Roman skeleton excavated from the Cambridge area in the 1950s.

It was the same skeleton that Sylvia Plath saw in the museum when she was a student here, and which inspired the poem, All the Dead Dears.

It's a haunting depiction of the "barnacle dead" and how they "grip us through thin and thick." Here's the ending:
Any touch, taste, tang's 
Fit for those outlaws to ride home on, 

And to sanctuary: usurping the armchair 
Between tick 
And tack of the clock, until we go, 
Each skulled-and-crossboned Gulliver 
Riddled with ghosts, to lie 
Deadlocked with them, taking roots as cradles rock.

After my own graveyard discoveries the other day, I found it especially poignant!

Image from Cambridge News

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