Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Friday, October 2, 2015

Frankenstein Sundae, 159

Of course, the Forum and the Colosseum were also closed. Still, I was able to take some shots from the exteriors. Not the best choice—but the only one I had. I was beginning to feel jinxed. I did manage to see the Pantheon, one of Rome’s most interesting buildings—open to the sky. On the site of a building that had housed images of the Roman gods, this “newer” structure (from the second century CE) now honors Christianity. As I walked around inside, looking at the statuary, at the amazing ceiling, I was annoyed to find that the gift shop had no guide books in English; I settled for German: Führer ins Pantheon. I did fairly well with it.
The day before—on Sunday—I’d found the Protestant Cemetery near the Pyramid of Cestius, built around 12 BCE and still standing proudly in southeastern Rome. From my journal:
The Prot. Cem. is just behind the pyramid, and I circled it twice before I figured out that I had to apply at the gate. Shelley’s grave is well marked—but the slabs (Trelawny is there too) look new. … Sun was wrong, so I’ll be here at 9 a.m. tomorrow for a better shot—if, that is, the sun is shining.
It was. But when I arrived there the next morning, I noticed the sign: closed on Mondays. More of the fabled Dyer Luck. I’d already bought my train tickets for Naples, already made hotel reservations there. And I was gnashing my teeth for more than one reason: The day before I’d forgotten to find and photograph the grave of John Keats.
When Shelley’s body had washed up on the beach at Viareggio, there were some local regulations to satisfy (and I will soon tell all of the story of the drownings and their aftermath), Trelawny eventually made the arrangements for his friend’s burial in Rome. He also made arrangements for his own grave to be beside Shelley’s. He actually dug the hole in preparation for something that would not occur until nearly sixty years later.[1]
But when Trelawny visited the cemetery in the spring of 1823 (nearly a year after the drownings), he discovered that the poet’s remains were not in a separate place. Alarmed—and with the help of Joseph Severn (Keats’ dear friend)—he arranged for a more substantial remembrance there, including a stone that bore Leigh Hunt’s “Cor Cordium” (“the heart of hearts”) and some celebrated lines Ariel delivers early in The Tempest:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
So, yes, Shelley’s remains lie in Rome. Well … most of them. His heart, however—yes, his actual biological heart—is quite another story.

[1] For one account of all of this, see David Crane, Lord Byron’s Jackal: A Life of Edward John Trelawny (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1999): 56–7.

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