Last weekend I was in New York again which meant that I had an opportunity to engage in what was, while I was living there, tied with Belgian beer for the status of my favorite vice: one dollar books.
One of my more intriguing finds was a Grave Matters: a book consisting wholly of epitaphs. The book was a fun and very quick read In terms of the content, the epitaphs are more than able to speak for themselves. A sampling might include…
There are people who seems glad to go, like Lydia Snow:
Gladly I quit this vile, decrepit clay,To rise in endless youth, in endless day.— Wellfleet, Massachusetts 1816
There are folks like John Young or Richard Hind whose epitaphs are written by "friends" who were being perhaps a bit too honest:
JOHN YOUNGThose who knew him best deplored him most.— [unverified]Here lies the body of Richard Hind,Who was neither ingenious, sober, or kind.— Chestnut, England, c. 1880
There are epitaphs that are just plain confusing like Nicholas Round’s:
Here lies the body of Nicholas RoundWho was lost at sea & never found.— Great Yamouth, England, c. 1790
Additionally, the book is full of warnings and clever rhymes — not of all which seem completely appropriate for a gravestone.
While I still suspect it’s a little premature, I’d like to borrow from Thomas Greenhill at least in part for my own epitaph:
Earth to earth’s shovel up is shut,A Hill into a Hole is put.