Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

12.05.2011

Stony Last Words

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For the past eight days, I've been regaling my family, friends, and anyone who will listen with random rememberances from one year ago. (For the record, one year ago today, I was sitting in Heathrow airport, waiting for my very delayed flight to come and take me home!)


Mikaela in front of the Tower of London


"Today, one year ago, we were flying to England!" I reminded Mama on November 28th.


"A year ago, we were at the World and Royal Premiere of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader!" I mused on the 29th to Papa.


Yes, I've been living in the past just a little bit, warming to those beautiful memories I made with Mama, which I will hold in my heart forever.


Mama posing in the Tower






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 One structure has especially stood out amongst my memories, however, and caused me to ponder upon deeper topics. Beauchamp Tower--part of the Tower of London--caught my fancy the minute Mama and I stepped inside, shivering in the below-freezing dusk. The romance of standing in a place erected in 1275 was overwhelming (although not scarce to be had in England and France). But walking through the stone corridors and up the winding stone staircase was even more emotional. For, painstakingly etched into the rock walls, were dozens of names, dates, quotes, and engravings. Of the hundreds, if not thousands, of prisoners kept in this three-story tower over the centuries, many of them were never released. These walls, I realized, were covered in the last words of men who had found themselves checkmated. Some were fools who deserved death, but many more of them were brave wise souls who had done nothing wrong.



The Tower of London, from Mama's camera lens



I found the nonsensical (see picture below):
"You that these beasts do well behold andsee,
May deem with ease wherefore here made they be,
with borders eke wherein 4 brothers names who list to search the ground. John Dudley"
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The hopeful: "I am waiting for my liberty. Philip Howard [Earl of Arundel 1587]"


The spiritual: "We adore thee, Blessed Lord. Thomas Peverel [1571]"

                   
"In God is my hope. [Sir Richard?] Page"

"Better it is to be in the house of mourning than in the house of banqueting.
The heart of the wise is in the mourning house.
It is much better to have some chastening that to have overmuch liberty.
There is a time for all things, a time to be born and a time to die, and the day of death is better than the day of birth.
There is an end of all things and the end of a thing is better than the beginning.
Be wise and patient in trouble for wisdom defendeth as well as money.
Use well the time of prosperity and remember the time of misfortune. William Rame 2 April 1559" (See picture below)


Photo Credit


    "Learn to fear God. J.C."

Then there was the guilty: "An evil conscience makes men afraid even when safe. G.G. 1586"

There was the romantic: "My heart is yours till death. Thomas Wyllingar"

    "Jane"
Which almost certainly stands for Lady Jane Grey, who died in the Tower of London, but was never know to have resided in Beauchamp Tower. What is most likely, is that her husband, Lord Guilford Dudley (one of the aforementioned four brothers in the first quote) or his brother enscribed her name there in support of her. Both Jane and her husband were executed by Queen Mary in 1554 because of Jane's rightful claim to the throne.



And there was the wise: "To whom you tell the secret you give liberty. Richard Blount 9 July 1553"
                                     
"The word of the Lord remains. John Prine 1568"

The despairing: "Close prisoner 32 weeks, 224 days, 5376 hours. T. Salmon 1622"
                       
 "Oh, unhappy man that I think myself to be."

And the hasty: "R.D."


All of which leads me to wonder...what would I laboriously etch into stone during my last days on earth?



All unattributed pictures are Mama's and my own. 

6 comments:

  1. Beautiful pics! Thanks for sharing!!

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  2. Aaah, your trip was so awesome! No wonder you're having fun re-living it in memories! :)

    What a wealth of stories each of those quotes must hold. They are simultaneously greatly intriguing and deeply saddening. To be remembered by the few words or lines you scratch into a wall seems so...desperate. Even the Scriptures carved smack of an abandoned flavor. They have the air of calm acceptance and brave finality - which fills me with admiration, but still gives that empty, grieving sort of feeling - you know? I honestly have no idea what I would carve...but it is thought-provoking.

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  3. My pleasure, T.C.!

    Sarah--very thoughtful comment; I must agree with you on the sad, desperation that comes through. It is both tragic and inspiring that we have these last words from so many souls. God-willing, our legacy would extend beyond the words we choose to carve in a wall!

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  4. *sigh* ..your trip was indeed wonderful, so it is right that you should remember it so fondly! :) Wow..and what amazing (and sorrowful!) carvings! And a deep question. I do not know what I would etch, knowing they would be my last words to the world..

    Lovely post!

    -Lucia

    www.one-beloved.blogspot.com

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  5. What a beautiful piece of history. Thank you for sharing with those of us who have not had this encounter! It gave me goosebumps just reading the quotes!

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  6. Thanks, Lucia! You know, I was thinking about it later: couples celebrate wedding anniversaries, businesses commemorate their founding, and historical events are annually marked, so why not celebrate the own special occurrences in each of our personal lives? It certainly is fun to think about what you were doing on this day one, five, or ten years ago!

    Brandy--You are very welcome. Those quotes are so priceless, I knew I had to share. It just took me a year to get around to doing it. ;-)

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