Reading the Gravestones of Old New England
John G.S. Hanson
The graveyards of old New England hold a great range of poetic messages in the epitaphs etched into the gravestones, each a profound expression of emotion, culture, religion, and literature. These epitaphs are old, but their themes are timeless: mourning and faith, grief and hope, loss, and memory.
This book tells the story of a years-long walk among gravestones and the insights gained. It identifies the source texts and authors chosen for these stones; interprets something of the beliefs of the people who did the choosing; offers some ideas on the ways these texts were accessible in remote towns and villages; gives a summary of the religious context of the times; and reflects on how the language and literature chosen for these epitaphs express conflicted and evolving attitudes towards life, death, and eternity.