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hereafter

 

i know not the lengths of this journey as time now ticks ghostly so,

unbeknownst to me,

it coils it’s precious and vile tocks within the ruptures of my brokenness

my tumultuous cries rise

as i dance in this mirage of a storm

watch me glare into nothing

as the ticks and the tocks busy themselves narrating my life before me

in this my nirvana i tread

to bleed, to smile, to weep, to laugh, to burn

coming out of the fog

to find my breath again

 

I know this may seem like a dark piece, however, when I wrote this it was from the inspiration that fell upon me at the site of this breathtaking piece of funerary art that rests upon the grounds of Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington DC (just across the street from the nationally known Arlington Cemetery).

Upon returning home and reading the story of its creation, I knew I had to write about her. I’m including a link to its creation below. The piece of artwork itself is titled The Mystery of the Hereafter, although over the years it has been given the name of “grief” by those admiring its craftsmanship and perceived meaning.

Upon reading its history, I did find myself on the journey that one takes through grief, to that hereafter. It is different for us all, yet it is all very much the same (which lends to the male/female fusion the artist depicts with this piece) It hasn’t a map, it hasn’t a clock, nor does it have a definitive destination. We struggle, we grieve, all of us. Yet we survive. Often, we come out on the other side with a knowing, a new sense of strength, of purpose, of courage. Grief, that delicate five letter word, has the power of change, of acceptance, of growth.

Without ruining the story behind its creation for you, the romantic in me very much came alive as well. A breathtaking moment and an honor to be able to tip-toe into the life of two souls now since departed.

Thank you for taking a moment to read this piece. If you find a fondness for funerary art as I do, you can find more of my images in my gallery here.

 

images of “Grief” taken from Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington DC. Sculpture created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and listed on National Register of Historic Places. To read more about its elusive history read on…

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adams_Memorial_(Saint-Gaudens)

*featured image taken on a foggy morning walking the grounds of Belle Grove Plantation, birthplace of President James Madison.

-just breathe-

Washington DC, A Poe sighting, a historic funerary sculpture…

So on my pursuit to retrace the steps of Edgar Allan Poe because well I can, I stumbled upon something of epic coolness.

Rock Creek Cemetery.

In the heart of Washington DC, Rock Creek Cemetery is the home to my reason for a visit, the final resting place of Rosalie Poe, sister to Edgar Allan Poe. Established in 1719, it is the home to many dignitaries as well as famous folks and owns the title of the oldest cemetery in the District of Columbia.

Upon entering the grounds with a trusty map in hand that I easily printed off their website, I easily found Rosalie’s headstone. Sadly I easily discovered it was but a small memorial against the beasts of beauty that surrounded the park-like cemetery.

I’ve always been fond of architecture and I don’t shy away from including funerary sculptures into that category. Except for me they take on a whole separate appreciation. The solemnity of them. The personal meaning that lies within each. The clear love and grief of its design that is almost staring back at you. It’s eerily beautiful.  And when I began to meander about the well-groomed grounds of Rock Creek I came across many notable and breathtaking mausoleums, sculptures and tombstones that I want to share.

The first one that was more like a secret sanctuary was enclosed by walls of shrubbery that looked well cared for. Walking up the marble steps onto a square marble platform I discover this.

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Of course I had to search the internet to find out what this eerily amazing piece was and who is buried here as you see it’s completely unmarked. I do love a good mystery and believe you me I already had a novel half way written.

What I found out was pretty cool. Amazingly enough this unmarked sculpture was built in 1891 and in 1972 was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Um, wow. I can see why though. Buried here is notable author Henry Adams and his wife, Clover. Heartbroken when his wife committed suicide, Henry sought out the skills of famed Irish artist, Augustus Saint-Gaudens  and architect Stanford White to design a piece fitting for his wife. Over the years it has taken on the name  as “Grief” from its many visitors from all over the country. However, Mr Adams left specific instructions in his will that there was never to be an inscription nor was the monument ever to be labeled with a title.

His vision was that of the Buddhist interpretation of nirvana, a state of being beyond joy and sorrow.  I was easily in absolute awe of it and found myself sitting on the marble bench that surrounds it, meditating.  Sigh. What a beautifully tragic love story. The love this man must have had for his wife and clearly heartbroken to want to make something so beautiful, so unique. I visualized him coming here, sitting, talking to her. I was mesmerized by her solemn beauty and had to get an up close look of her. It should be noted here that the intent of Saint-Gaudens was this not to be male nor female, but I like to imagine that it is her, his wife, trapped in her silent tomb.

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Easily my most memorable piece throughout the whole cemetery I spent quite a bit of time here, captivated by the beauty, the meaning and the sadness.

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Reluctantly, I continued my exploration, leaving this oasis  and it didn’t take long to stumble upon another silent beauty and unlike Adams memorial,  this was left to weather which I found remarkably symbolic. 

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Those eyes so real as if telling me their story, and the face as if covered in grief-stricken tears. Created by sculpture American, Gutzon Borglum “Rabboni” it is meant to depict that of Mary Magdalene and has a bronze marker on the back that reads:

THE END OF BIRTH IS DEATH
THE END OF DEATH IS LIFE
WHEREFOR MOURNEST THOU

 

This next one was a close second to the Adams Memorial and is simply titled “Memory” and designed by American sculpture William Partridge. The bronze panels along the granite bench that the mourning woman sits depicts Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Men.”

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The only information I could get on this next one was that it was designed by artist Jules Dechin so I call it “The Raised Hand”

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This one, the Frederick Keep Monument, I couldn’t find much information on other than it is designed by artist, James Earle Fraser.

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Remaining are other images I captured throughout the grounds of various tombstones, monuments and intricate mausoleums.

 

 

Finally, the reason that brought me to this secret oasis, the tombstone of Rosalie Poe, which will undoubtedly be included in an upcoming post of my travels along the East Coast in search of Poe Places.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent in this oasis amidst the bustling streets of Washington DC . If you like history and are a fan of funerary sculpture or simply want to adventure somewhere off the beaten path, I would highly recommend a visit to Rock Creek Cemetery.

J