Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Art of Death

I've started rereading Sarah Stewart Taylor's Sweeney St. George mysteries. The first reading was several years ago, all borrowed from the Newport Public Library; now I'm buying digital copies to read in my Kindle app on my smart phone. I'm especially interested in these because the fictional Sweeney is an art history professor specializing funerary art, often involving gravestones and stone carvers; those of you who have been reading here for a while know my interest in and research into those same subjects. Sweeney also has Newport roots, and one of the books takes place there. Ms. Taylor herself is also interested in those subjects and knows Newport well. She visits there often, and once I was able to direct her to a little, semi-hidden colonial-era cemetery she didn't know about (yes, I wrote a fan letter/email; she even wrote me back to let me know she'd look for it on her next visit). Unfortunately, Ms. Taylor hasn't written a Sweeney St. George story since 2006; these days she seems to be concentrating on children's and young adults' fiction. I'm about to write another fan email encouraging her to continue with Sweeney books. If anybody wants to join in the crusade can click on the link above to her website and drop her a line. WE WANT SWEENEY!

In any case, reading the stories again got me thinking about all the gravestone and cemetery shots I've taken both back in Newport and here in the Shippensburg, PA area, as well as all the research I've done and posted here. And I'm thinking I might put together another photo book on using the best of all those shots and some of the research posts. It'll take a while, but it's an idea. In the meantime I collected four shots to post today to whet your appetite for more (plus you can always hit click on "Cemeteries and Gravestones" in the category cloud in the sidebar to read all the posts).

The perfect music for this subject is Natalie Merchant's setting of Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem "Spring and Fall: to a young Child", from her 2010 double CD Leave Your Sleep. The poem is about a child's dealing with her own mortality, and Natalie Merchant's setting is especially moving. Enjoy!

Photos © 2008, 2009, 2012, & 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. Ah Roy - how I love your gravestone photos. I find the images comforting somehow - a literal place of resting in peace, covered by an earthen - or grassy - or snowy blanket.

    The Natalie Merchant! Wow. I've been out of touch with her music for some time. I met her - knew her when she was working with 10,000 Maniacs way back when. They performed in the theatre (The Reg Lenna Civic Center) in Jamestown, NY when I was an art administrator/grant writer to help us raise funds. Good people.

  2. Gorgeous and white, too! I especially love the E Hayward Berry and his wife's resting place...flanked by those two's stunning! Best of luck with your book...what a neat idea and topic!

  3. So Peaceful....and Strong.Roy,I Love Your Photos!

  4. Absolutely gorgeous photos Roy. I have just checked and those books aren't available on Kindle over here for some odd reason. I have clicked the button on Amazon which says "I want to see a Kindle copy".

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