Saturday, 18 February 2012

Gravestone writings

More and more during my graveyard wanderings I'm struck not just by the visual imagery but also by the amazing words written on gravestones. During our visit to Crichton graveyard (see previous post) I was struck by the above gravestone, which has no imagery whatsoever but instead offers a selection of beautiful fonts, some italianate, but all different. Of course I had to know what it all said and it was a very peculiar mix of extreme piousness and also (at least that's what came to my mind) a settling of scores which seems to contradict the God is Love message at the top. Here it is in its entirety:

God is Love

O may I to the end of time

a Christians life pursue

happy to live prepared to die

and bid my babes adieu

For I have often troubled been

But I'll pray to be forgiven

And men have much tormented me

But I hope to rest in Heaven

If any person wish to hear

just come to me yoursel'

And I shall speak to you in fear

And I thee truth will tell

All things work together

for good to them that

love God.

The rhyming seems to get dropped towards the end. We'll never know why.

After a full inspection of the writing that first captured my attention I just had to know who had caused such text to be written. And the other side of the gravestone shed some light on that although the last verses proved to be equally mysterious. I'm pretty sure I've deciphered it correctly, but however I read it the line about "their ears are cold" makes absolutely no sense to me.

Here for your delectation is the full text as far as it is still visible:

Erected by Thomas Porteous, in memory of Elizabeth Stoddart, his grandmother aged 75 years, who died 24 November 18?5. Also two of his sons, Peter & William, who died in infancy April 183(?)5. Blessed are the dead who died in the Lord. Their ears are cold, and over their grave, the grass may wave, their tales are told.

I will always be more attracted by the imagery on graves, after all I'm a visual artist first and foremost, but I find myself scribbling away madly in a notepad to remember the texts I find, specially the more bizarre inscriptions. What were these people thinking off, considering the fact they must have been aware that it would be there "till all eternity"


Lenna Young Andrews said...

These gravestone writings are mysterious to me, Frieda. But I admire your passion and persistence in trying to sort them out! Truly, I do. xo lenna

Linda said...

It would be interesting to know why they used a mix of lettering instead of one style. None the less it is beautiful lettering.


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