The Legacy of Pompeii 1st Place – Hannah Wismer, Locust Grove Mennonite

August 24, 79 AD,
A composite mountain blows it top
Bombs are falling in front of me,
Trying to survive

I’m Pliny the Elder,
Stationed in Pompeii
This place is not my native shelter,
Trying to survive

Pumice and rocks, raining down,
Smothering everything in sight
Spewing fumes all over the town,
Trying to survive

If we are going through these trials,
Is Herculaneum holding up?
For they are closer by several miles,
Trying to survive

No ash proof shelter or strong enough beam,
To survive the growing weight
Collapsing, burning, the buildings scream,
Trying to survive

Eight to ten feet of ash,
Covering Pompeii
Sixty feet on Herculaneum,
Trying to survive

Grabbing my treasures and favored possessions,
Losing them as I run
Our flight is like a crazed procession,
Trying to survive

The ocean beckoning with a calming breeze,
Can they leave the dock?
No, the boats are frozen in pumice seas,
Trying to survive

Fumes are looming up ahead
The smell of burning sulfur
A breath of gas and I am dead
Trying to survive

4,000 statues, hard as rock,
One fifth of the people dead
Frozen fear captured in blocks
Trying to survive

Shadow lurking omnipresent,
No home, crops, animals, or treasures
I’ve now become a lowly peasant,
Trying to survive

I feel my death is coming soon,
I’m trying not to panic
I cough, I choke, I start to swoon,
Trying to survive

I hope Pliny the Younger receives this news,
I hope he tells the world
I hope he gets some interviews,
Trying to survive

I held my breath as long as I could,
I finally gave up hope
I died as I proudly stood,
Trying to survive

The legacy of this day still lives,
Everything frozen in time
We can learn from the lesson it gives,
While we’re trying to survive


  • Furgang, Kathy. Mount Vesuvius: Europe’s Mighty Volcano of Smoke and Ash. New York: PowerKids, 2001. Print.
  • “Global Volcanism Program | Vesuvius.” Global Volcanism Program | Vesuvius. Web. 09 Feb. 2015.
  • Gruen, Erich S. “Pompeii.” World Book Student. World Book, 2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.
  • Kertzer, David I. “Vesuvius.” World Book Student. World Book, 2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.
  • “Eruption of Mount Vesuvius begins.” 2015. The History Channel website. Jan 25, 2015.
  • “Pompeii Live from the British Museum.” The British Museum. Trustees of the British Museum. 2013. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.
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