Speaking of Graves…

Yesterday’s post made me think of Thomas Gray‘s poem “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” especially the following stanza:

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike th’ inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

It’s a sobering fact that we all come to the same end in the end.  Here are some graves of notable people and one who is notable by the witness of his life.

Paul was buried in the Granary Burying Ground in downtown Boston

Sam is buried near his buddy Paul. Oh, and he makes a pretty good beer. At least, we New Englanders like it.

Here lies Henry David Thoreau. Expected more, didn't you?

Emerson lies near Thoreau in Author's Ridge at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts

Louisa May Alcott's grave on Author's Ridge. I used a picture of her grave in an earlier blog, but this is a different view.

Hawthorne is in good company on Author's Ridge.

At Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia

Final resting place of John Paul Jones, the Father of the American Navy, at Annapolis, Maryland

I snapped this of Longfellow's grave last weekend at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts

This last one is one of my favorites.  I found it on a hill in a little church cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts.  The gravestone is very faded and difficult to read, but I wanted you to know what it says:

God wills us free.  Man wills us slaves.
I will as God wills.  God’s will be done.
Here lies the body of
JOHN JACK
A native of Africa
Who died March 1773 aged about 60 years
Tho’ born in a land of slavery
He was born free.
Tho’ he died in a land of liberty,
He died a slave,
Till by his honest tho’ stolen labors
He acquired the source of slavery
Which gave him his freedom,
Tho’ not long before
Death the grand tyrant
Gave him his final emancipation
And set him on a footing with kings
Tho’ a slave to vice
He practiced those virtues
Without which kings are but slaves.

(The last four lines are compliments of blogger Rob Pedley who was able to read them when my trusty magnifying glass failed me.)

He must have been quite a man. I would like to have known him.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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23 Responses to Speaking of Graves…

  1. Pingback: Author Q&A with Stephen England | Man of la Book

  2. Absolutely beautiful photos and post, CE.

  3. Wow! That last epitaph was amazing. New England is one area of the country I haven’t visited yet. You make me want to go there….NOW.

    • comingeast says:

      Of course I prejudiced a tad, Mama, since that’s where I grew up, but New England is a beautiful place with lots to do and see. If you ever decide to take a trip there, let me know, and I’ll suggest some places you don’t want to miss. I’m sure some of the other New England bloggers will do the same.

  4. mrngstr333 says:

    Graveyards are history books. Very interesting, indeed. Thanks for posting and by the way, I posted, finally, last night. Seems that I only feel the need to write when not doing so will surely drive me crazy! LOL. Have a great weekend!

  5. Leah says:

    Wow, that is amazing to see the graves of such iconic writers and historians. I don’t know why but seeing the graves really hits home that they were “real” people. Thanks for sharing such a thoughtful post.

  6. I love looking at old headstones but haven’t got to see famous graves like these. Now I now where to go. Missed you and been taking a break myself. Mostly blogging over at gracefullwomen cause my time is limited right now. stop by if you get the chance.

  7. winsomebella says:

    I love exploring graveyards. Thanks for taking me on your tour–love the last gravestone.

  8. judithhb says:

    I love old graveyards and try to picture the lives of the people buried there. I too wonder who the guy was who has such a great memorial and who put the gravestone there? I guess we shall never know.

  9. “notable by the witness of his life”…Thank you for bringing us his story etched in stone. Remarkable story.

  10. I remember visiting Author’s Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery during the summer and being so taken by Louisa May Alcott’s grave. So many children had left flowers and letters thanking her for writing Little Women, many comparing themselves to one of the March girls. Cemeteries are very introspective places!

    • comingeast says:

      Yes, Carol, when I first saw her grave, I had a lump in my throat because Little Women was one of my favorite stories. That and Little Men and Jo’s Boys, two of her other books.

  11. tflvolunteer - Rob Pedley says:

    I think the last lines read:
    And set him on a footing with kings
    Tho a slave to vice
    He practiced those virtues
    Without which kings are but slaves.

    Who was this guy? Who commemorated him? Graveyards are full of questions.

    • comingeast says:

      Wow, Rob! Good eye! I remember reading those lines when I was standing in front of the gravestone, but I never wrote them down, and I couldn’t read them with my magnifying glass this morning. I think I will go back and amend my post, if you don’t mind. Thanks a bunch.
      I don’t know who this man was, but he must have been special to be a slave and be so commemorated by that gravestone. Yes, graveyards are full of questions.

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