“A Childs Grave, Hale County Alabama” “Child’s Grave, Hale County Alabama” struck me with excellent imagery. The poem has an outstanding portrayal of exactly how difficult times were during the Depression. At first glance this poem could simply be about a man burying his child. But I believe it is much more than that, also a descriptive depiction of average families struggles during this historical rough spot for this country. It is easy for modern American’s to take for granted all of the advantages we have.
Taking for granted what our predecessors had to endure for us to have these daily benefits. In this poem a man carries his deceased child to give him a respectful burial. In 1936, just after the depression, times were tough for all American families. The land was described as so hard that even in less difficult years the unforgiving land would snap the head off a shovel. He had to steal a post from his landlord’s farm and carried it along with his child three miles from home to burry his son.
This particular night he snuck away from his wife in the dead of night. All of this effort and sneaking could possibly suggest the father may have killed his son. Perhaps he knew he would not be able to feed another mouth and wished to take his son out of his misery. The father could have thought this action was justifiable; knowing first hand the hardships this child would have to endure and it was too much to bear for this father to bear.
When he gets to the gravesite he digs painstakingly to five feet down into this baron tough ground to let only one foot of the post show above ground. In the poem the post was described as a “half-cross” this could symbolize his internal struggle between right and wrong, good and evil. In his mind, killing his son out of protection from this cruel world was a necessary evil. The amount of effort that the father put into this burial showed that he cared very much for his son.
The father leaves off the engravings on the post to mark the child’s grave. This could possibly be because he was illiterate, which was common for this era. He could have felt the plain post suited his son better, representing his plain family and average struggles. This was a post a personal memorial to his son, he didn’t put it there for public viewing. The father obviously loved his son and felt enormous grief he could not properly raise him. But at the very least, this man would give his son a proper burial.