In Marblehead, Massachusetts, exists the famous cemetery Old Burial Hill. Est. 1638, this beautiful final resting place overlooks the sea, and the town. It is believed more than 600 soldiers of the Revolutionary War are resting in the many unmarked graves.
In Minister's Row, Susanna Jayne is buried under the artful stone carved by Henry Christian Geyer. The thought and the symbolism captured on this stone is moving and penetrating.
- The stone reads:
Beneath this Stone the Mortal Part
of Mrs. Susanna Jayne, the amiable Wife of
Mr. Peter Jayne, who lived Beloved
and Died Universally Lamented, on
August 8th 1776 in the 45th
Year of her Age.
Precious in the Sight of the Lord is the Death of his Saints.
Here Sleeps the precious Dust - She Shines above,
Whose Form was harmony, whose soul was Love.
What were her Virtues? all that Heaven could Spare
What were her Graces? all Divinity Fair.
Mingling with Angels, they admire a Guest,
As spotless Good, and lovely as the Rest.
- The Symbolism
Death Moves In When time Runs Out
The symbolism in this exquisite carving is universal.
The first of these is the hourglass and bones, an obvious and grounded metaphor for the brevity of life on earth, time ticking away, and the dust that becomes of our mortal selves when our time is up.
The 2 bats represent the evil in the world which is conquered by death. Above them, the two winged cherubs represent the pathway to heaven. The snake swallowing its own tail creates a never ending circle; the symbol of eternity. The scythe is the object of the reaping: just like the wheat which grows to maturity, the harvest is then reaped and taken.
In the hands of the skeleton are the sun, and the moon depict the cycle of life. The skeleton wears a wreath of laurels and is draped in a cloth wound around itself. These symbols of victory depict the soul as having championed earthbound trials and tribulations, and true ascension to a better place.
The skeleton is used in many cultures to represent death. In places like Mexico where the Day of the Dead is a celebration for those who've crossed to a better place, there is reverence and honor inspired by the image. In the ancient symbolism used by H.C. Geyer in this depiction, death is a gentle vehicle bringing a worthy soul to her reward.
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