Recently, Yang and I decided to take a stroll in one of our favorite cemeteries, Mt. Auburn in Cambridge, MA. So, to avoid the July heat and try to catch sight of some interesting birds, we left early in the morning and managed to get in around 8:00. Parking in a slightly different location, we almost immediately came across this monument to Edwin Booth, a famous Shakespearean actor of the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, his mental health in later years led him to take the method acting thing a bit too far, his Richard III indomitably driving Richmond off the stage and his Othello trying to strangle Desdemona for real – maybe an inspiration for Ronald Colman’s A Double Life? Still, he posed far less of danger than one of his actor sons, John Wilkes.
Here you can see some wonderful reliefs carved on series of family tomb stones.
This beautiful woman, perhaps an embodiment of the soul, presides over a family vault.
Walking up the hill towards the tower that gives a beautiful panorama of the cemetery as well as of Boston and its environs, the slope that rolls down into the rest of the cemetery provides a peaceful, shaded landscape. This day we didn’t see any exciting creatures at the top of the tower, which you ascend via a spiral stone staircase in the center. Once, when we were up there, we saw several hawks circling. Here’s a nice shot the stone path leading up to the tower. I also had to take a photograph of the enormous roots of this ancient tree snaking across and underground. There’s a Lovecraft moment in here somewhere.
From lectures on cemetery tours and material I’ve read on monument art, I feel fairly safe conjecturing that the kneeling female figure represents the soul of the recently departed and the angel’s lifting a cloak from her represents this sacred figure lifting the veil of life cloaking us from God’s radiance, preparing the soul to ascend to heaven. Interesting that the soul usually is portrayed as female. A connection to the goddess Psyche?
Another intriguing relief. Any comments on the symbolism?
Here’s a figure to give all the Dr. Who fans the willies. How would you feel if this child cherub came to life? A comforting figure or not?