Perhaps we can tell a great deal about the “callings” or vocations of individuals from their epitaphs. What about our epitaphs? At the end of a life of calling, what assessment will we make of it all? How will your epitaph read? What will my epitaph say?
Will it read with comic cynicism like the epitaph ofW.C. Fields? “Better here than Philadelphia.” Or will it reek of fatalism or resignation or insignificance? Danville’s Thomas Johnson published his poetry in “The Kentucky Miscellany” in 1789, making him one of Kentucky’s earliest poets. His nicknames — “Drunken Tom” and “The drunken poet of Danville” — tell us something about where he received his inspiration. His poem, “The Author’s Hatred to Kentucky in General,” shows us why he was never chosen as Kentucky’s Poet Laureate:
I hate Kentucky, curse the place,
And all her vile and miscreant race!
Who make religion’s sacred tie,
A mash through which they cheat and lie;
I hate all judges here of late,
And every lawyer in the state.
Each quack that is call’d physician,
And all blockheads in commission
Worse than the Baptist roaring rant,
I hate the Presbyterian cant.
Their parsons, elders, nay the whole,
And wish them gone with all my soul.
Far worse than these, I yet do hate,
All those who pimp or speculate.
All rogues and villains, men in trade,
(If a distinction may be made.
Glad would I be: `twas quickly done,