Epitaphs: Part I

Anyone with a good eye can find a zillion stories in cemeteries.  That’s saying a great deal about a place where only mute stones stand there to speak to you.  The dead can’t tell their tales and in most cases, there will be no one around to tell of a life and give those reposing there, a voice.

Go to a nearby cemetery, walk among the stones and read of the lives of people you will never meet.  Or find the grave of a friend and continue your chat you started 37 years ago.

Edgar Lee Masters wrote a masterpiece of American fiction, “Spoon River Anthology.”  Thornton Wilder wrote a sublime play, “Our Town.”  Read the book, see the play and go stroll in a graveyard.  Stop, read and listen.  Someone is talking to you, crying, laughing, begging, or simply waiting…waiting for you to notice them.

I have read hundreds if not thousands of epitaphs for decades now.  I never cease to be moved, alarmed, shocked or humbled by what I read.  I’ve seen stone markers of suicides, 14 year-old murder victims, infants and people unknown or individuals who were quite famous.

I hope to share some of the more remarkable epitaphs I’ve collected in future postings.

Here’s one I recall from a solitary New England burying-ground.  The dates carved were in the early 18th Century.  It was the slate marker for twins:

“They tasted of life’s bitter cup.

Refused to drink the potion up.

Turned their little heads aside,

Disgusted with the taste, and died.”

Here’s one I photographed in early May, 2013:Image

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