RATTLE HIS BONES OVER THE STONES
Rattle His Bones,
Over the Stones,
He’s only a pauper,
Who nobody owns
It's an old poem. Older than anyone can put much of a date to. There are versions of it seen in the early eighteen hundreds, and authors as current at Neil Gaiman have used derivatives of the phrase in their works of art.
You know what they say about things that stick around.
It’s usually because they speak to us in some way. And this creepy little saying is no exception.
But the meaning of the words seem to hit close to home here in the old city of Savannah, the city quite literally built over its dead.
The poem refers to the transport of a dead pauper’s body to his final resting place. The rattling of his bones, the lack of decorum or care, because he’s only a pauper, after all. He doesn’t belong to anybody.
And this old shaded town, started out as a debtors colony, after all. The first people who settled this place, they were the paupers, the cast-offs of English society. And so it’s no wonder that as the city grew, and as the original generations grew old and died off, the bricks of buildings and sidewalks paved right over the top of Savannah’s original burial grounds, snuffing out any record of the old paupers forgotten underneath.
And so it continued. Generation after generation until untold burial plats, caskets, and bones were forgotten and hidden forever.