July 25th, 2017

Cosmos mariners

Commenter “Stan McQueen” wrote on the Conrad Aiken thread:

I was especially touched by the inscription of “Cosmos Mariner-Destination Unknown” on his tombstone, which is in the shape of a bench.. He saw a ship by that name and looked it up in the port logs and found the notation “Destination Unknown”. He apparently likened that ship to himself.

I found that intriguing, too. Here’s the tombstone, which can be found in Savannah, Georgia, Aiken’s birthplace:

“Cosmos Mariner”—I like it, although I’m not so sure that most of us have either the tools or the charts. Have we lost our ability to steer? Did we ever have it?

14 Responses to “Cosmos mariners”

  1. Chris Says:

    We sat on that bench/tombstone in the Bonaventure Cemetery which overlooks the Wilmington River, when we visited Savannah a few years ago. If you’ve never been to Savannah read Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil. It will make you want to visit this amazing historic city.

  2. Frog Says:

    Poetic but uncomfortable for me. His soul is floundering out there, perhaps directionless.
    Was Aiken an atheist?
    His family had nothing to do with the establishment of Aiken, SC. His parents were yankees who moved to Savannah well after war’s end .

  3. John Guilfoyle Says:

    I’m with you Frog…amazing gifts but to sense no destiny beyond this life…I find that sad.

  4. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    Yes. Poetic and sad.

  5. vanderleun Says:

    Before birth you were of the cosmos. After death, should your soul survive, you will either be in some sort of afterlife or part of the cosmos again. Of the two states only the transition between is to be feared, and that only for an inch of time.

  6. Philip Says:

    The epitaph reminds me of an episode title from the Space Battleship Yamato series: “Our Destination Is the Sea of Stars”.

  7. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Abrahamic Covenant, your seed will be as the stars.

  8. Ymar Sakar Says:


    NASA won’t even point a 747 telescope at the moon, and the stars don’t look quite right either under optical zooms. They look closer to protein cells, which is also why distributed calculation algorithms are used to identify human protein and now exo planets from University of Geneva.

  9. miklos000rosza Says:

    I discovered the novel COSMOS by Witold Gombrowicz when I was 17, and it later proved a bi hit when I was 42 and somehow ended up passing books to an 18 year old, Amyjane, known as “the most beautiful girl in the downtown scene,” who was delighted by the novel and then passed it on to Summer, Kari, Zia and others in that circle who hung out at the X-Ray Café. Amyjane was the girlfriend of Courtney Taylor, leader of the band the Dandy Warols. She was supposedly the only girl to ever break his heart, and according to some is the subject of the hit song “Not If You Were the Last Junkie On Earth.”

  10. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

    This is probably her: https://www.google.com/search?q=M/V+Cosmos+Mariner&client=tablet-android-efun&prmd=ivn&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjD_8DArabVAhVixlQKHYsyARgQ_AUICSgB&biw=1366&bih=768#imgrc=DhCqWKSJd3h2uM:

  11. F Says:

    Looking at Scott’s photo of the Cosmos Mariner, and contemplating that name, I’m wryly guessing it’s all a cover for a CIA activity. That’s the kind of thing they’d do, like naming an Asian airline Air America.

  12. Big Maq Says:

    And ode to trump?…

    “I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert… near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:

    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

  13. arfldgrs Says:

    The History Behind The Cosmos Mariner “destination unknown”.

    Conrad Aiken was born August 5, 1889 in Savannah, Georgia to William Ford and Anna (Potter) Aiken.

    His father a well-respected brain surgeon, and his mother a socialite that loved to entertain.

    On February 21, 1901 Conrad was awakened by gun shots. His father had shot and killed his mother and then himself. Orphaned, Conrad was sent to Massachusetts to live with relatives.

    He later attended Harvard University. A writer whose works include poetry, short stories, novels and an autobiography, he also became the first Georgian to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1930.

    Eleven years before his death Aiken returned to Savannah and purchased the home next door to his childhood home.

    He would often sit overlooking the water near his parents burial site in the beautiful Bonaventure cemetery.

    One afternoon he saw a ship with the name Cosmos Mariner on the bow. Intrigued by the name he desided to do some research at the port authority only to find that the ledger read Cosmos Mariner “destination unknown”.

    He saw this as the sum of his life, so much so that he had it put on a bench that marks the site of his grave next to his parents.

    the image of the grave is here

  14. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    The absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco has “Prier le Je Ne Sais Qui. J’espère Jesus-Christ” (“Pray to the I Don’t Know Who. Jesus Christ, I hope.”)” https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=1640

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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