Monday, 27 February 2012

Cheerful Epitaphs nº 1

Due to a weekend full of generational conflict, I’m feeling a little down today. And at my age, there’s nothing better to cheer you up than the contemplation of a few good graveyard epitaphs. Just to remind you that the fun doesn’t stop when life happens to end.

In due course, dear reader, I will treat you to my own incomparable compositions. But today I will merely entertain you with a few hilarious ones from such charming books as W.T. Vincent’s ‘In search of gravestones old and curious’, and ‘Quaint epitaphs,’ by Susan Darling Safford (guess what her husband called her?)

Okay, here goes the first. As my good friend, the Amsterdam poet Marten Marcos, never tires of telling me: ‘If you can’t hide it, show it!’ Which must be what the family of this shipwrecked sailor had in mind when they wrote on his tombstone:

Here lies the body of John Mound
Lost at sea and never found

A pair of grief-stricken Vermont parents faced similar trouble and in their utter bewilderment concocted the following muddled inscription:

Under these stones lie three children dear;
Two are buried at Taunton and I lie here

Just to warn you to behave to your family, particularly if your name lends itself easily for a pun, see what his loved ones did to this fine fellow:

            Here lies John Wood within his coffin
            One Wood inside another
            The outer wood is very good
            We cannot praise the other

Lastly, here is one the poet Alexander Pope pretended to have seen at a local churchyard (even though I suspect he invented it himself, the same way that old Michelangelo faked the Laocoön). Supposedly, this inscription adorned the grave of two youngsters killed by a flash of lightning in 1718:

Here lye two poor Lovers who had the mishap
Tho very chaste people to die of the Clap

Okay! And now that we all feel good again after this jolly read, go look at Paul Krugman’s take on ‘What Ails Europe?’ in today’s International Herald Tribune. And remember that the Infallible, Divine Euro would bring us prosperity, stability, brotherhood and bliss.

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