Tumbles the sagging rails, and the late crowrnAlone can challenge, whom for countersignrnI open these uncrafty hands,rnUnweaponed now, to seek upon the hillrnStones where no filial tribute can be lost,rnAbove the bones not laid in stranger’s lands,rnBut their own earth commingles with their dust;rnOur home is far across the western wavernBack of whose steeps, forsaken and foregone.rnLost continents ebb we have no power to save.rnThe unending cycle breaks against this strandrnWhere blue tidewater laps our greener land.rnAnd once the Virginia voyage brings us clear,rnThe hoodless eagles of the new-world skiesrnTowering, unshackle us, and the numberless deerrnConfound the musket, and the wild geese rise,rnHurling southward with invincible wingrnOmens unriddled for our journeying.rnRough pilgrims, faring far, whose HesperusrnStooped by the piney woods or mountain cove.rnOr whom the Buffalo Gods to the perilousrnLift of the Great Divide and the redwood grovernSpoke on and bid lav down from sea to searnThe sill and hearthstone of our destinv.rnSalving our wounds, from the moody kings we came.rnAnd even while kinsmen’s shoulders raised and setrnThe first log true, bethought us of a namernTo seal the firm lips of our unregret.rnTo charm the door against the former agernAnd bless the lintel of our hermitage.rnRecite then while the inviolate hearth-flame leapsrnHow Ilion fell, and, hound at knee, recallrnPlatonic converse. Let the screech-owl keeprnWatch where the fat maize crowds the forest wall.rnHigh by the talking waters grows the cane;rnWild by the salt-lick herds the forest game.rnAnd let the gravbeard sav when men and maidsrnCome for his blessing: “This I leave to you!rnThe hidian dream came on me in these glades,rnAnd some strange bird-or-bcast word named me new.rnPeace be to all who keep the wilderness.rnCursed be the child who lets the freehold pass.”rnThe heritage Davidson recovers and affirms in this sober invocationrnis not merely literary but also social and political. Orrnit is social and political first of all. But it so well informs andrnstructures a text for extending this discussion of the theory ofrnmemorv in his work that it deserves careful attention.rnDavidson’s “I lermitagc” is a poem in three parts. It beginsrnwith distance between the speaker and his ancestor, arnpioneer of Bedford County, Tennessee—specifically, of ChestnutrnRidge. There Andrew Davidson, the poet’s great-greatgrandfather,rnhad been the original white settler. DonaldrnDavidson seeks him there. But there is, irr the beginning of hisrnquest, not enough memory to “find” the pioneer, the bovrnwho, at 14, fought at King’s Mountain and then, after losing arnfamily to Indian raids, came as a man over the mountains tornbegin again. Full of “unuttered vows,” the poet finds on ChestnutrnRidge only the inclusive history of which Andrew Davidson,rnwith his “gun and axe,” constituted a part: the generic historyrnof frontier Tennessee. But, in the poem’s second section,rnwithin the “folk-chain,” in “hearthside tale his rumor grows,”rnand the poet is able to summon his forbear forward into ourrntime.rnIn “a century of no belief… history is fabulous no longer.”rnYet we know from Davidson’s “Soldier and Son” that throughrn”communion and pietas” the son may come to know his father.rnThis poem implies that generic history (here the memory ofrnthe War Between the States, or of a portion of it) can communicaterna tradition and become personal if it is connected tornan individual or setting that makes specific its example forrnthose who seek it out. Or link it instead to a “hearthsiderntale”—as of “pibroch’s wail” and “how red / The dew lay at Culloden.”rnA fresh “clamor of danger” (foreshadowing WorldrnWar II) brings Andrew Davidson “close”—rumors from thernOld World of a “great wind in the twilight boughs,” foretellingrnruin brought on by “false faith” in “world-gazing prophecies”rn(utopian dreams). The speaker in “Hermitage” hasrnreached the place where his great-grandfather, “the man ofrnflints and pelts,” built his cabin—the place where he wasrnburied. Piety toward the ancestor has brought him that far.rnThen the general history of the I’pper South as a culturernshaped by its frontier beginnings and its long memory ofrn”moody kings” and sorrows left behind can be expected torncompensate for the lack of the specific ancestor who as settlerrnhad, though “harried from croft and chapel, glen and strath,”rnput Scotland away and “washed the old bitter wars in the saltrnsea.”rnThe composite voice of all the Andrew Davidsons in Blue-rnStocking Hollow is the graybeard of part three of “Hermitage.”rnHis teaching is for us all, answering the hunger for directionrnthat had driven the modern Tennessean speaking in the poemrnto seek out Chestnut Ridge. Though coming 140 years afterrnAndrew Davidson, the lesson is continuous with the first settlers’rnexample: “Peace be to all who keep the wilderness. /rnCursed be the child who lets the freehold pass.” The homelyrnand routine operation of tradition are summarized in thernpoem’s concluding image of young people coming to therngrandsire for blessing and admonition. His lesson in tribal republicanismrnis continuous with all the history touched upon inrnthis poem, reaching back “to how Ilion fell” and to how “Gaelrnand Gaul, Palatine, Huguenot, came in company” from “ourrnhome . . . far across the western wave”: a history that runs untilrn”kinsmen’s shoulders raised and set /The first log true.” Accordingrnto Donald Davidson, it is a lesson that all of us requirernand that we can receive if we will—once the power of memorvrnhas been restored.rnAs I said, remembering is everywhere a motif in what DonaldrnDavidson wrote. I will draw a final illustration of Davidson’srnemphasis on the importance of memory and its role in perpetuatingrna culture from one of his Vermont poems, “Late Answer:rnA Civil War Seminar,” which has as its probable scene thernporch at Endicott, the Davidsons’ home at Bread Loaf, wherernhe taught most summers between 1931 and 1964. Oncernagain, it is a Southerner’s poem, an an.swer to questions fromrnan assortment of Yankee colleagues concerning the famousrn18/CHRONICLESrnrnrn