Epitaphs from a More Poetic Era

History fascinates me. Not just the history of major events, wars, plagues, the discoveries of intrepid explorers, but the stories of ordinary people.

Years ago I enjoyed visiting old cemeteries, reading, and recording the epitaphs. They are poetic, melancholy, touching, and in their own way uplifting because of their hope. 

I have not corrected the spelling on the punctuation.

Asleep in Jesus, far from thee
Thy kindred and their graves may be
But thine is still a blessed sleep
From which none ever wake to weep.

(Oregon, 1869)


The pains of death are past
Labor and sorrow cease;
And life’s long warfare closed at last
His soul is found in peace.

(Oregon, 1883)

Rest husband in the silent tomb
Rest for the shadows and the gloom
	of death is passed
Rest from the griefs thy path beset
Rest dear one till we have met
	in heaven at last.

(Oregon, 1888)


The praise of those who sleep in earth,
The pleasant memories of their worth,
The hope to meet when life is past
Shall heal the forlorn mind at last.

(Sequim, Washington, 1889)
There is a bright region above
We long to reach its shore
To join with the ones beloved,
Not lost but gone before.
A light from our household dims
A voice we heard is stilled
A place is vacant in our hearts
That ne’er can be filled.
One less to love on earth
One heart to love in heaven.

(Sequim, Washington, 1912)

A gateway to where?

Eloquent gravestone

These epitaphs make me wonder–who wrote them? Was there a book of epitaphs from which to choose? I’ve seen this last one in more than one cemetery. If there was such a book, who wrote it? Is it kept in the office at the cemetery? What else did the person write?

4 thoughts on “Epitaphs from a More Poetic Era”

  1. I wish we could find more peace as we live. The epitaphs are lovely and a final good message from someone who loved the deceased.


  2. What a lovely post! Some of my best memories are of Memorial Day (called Decoration Day back then) when our family took flowers to the graves in the local cemetery then traveled to Snohomish and met other relatives to decorate graves there. We always had a big family potluck afterwards. Decades later I wrote and sold several times a “looking-back” article called “Always Lilacs and Fruit Jars,'” how many years if spring was late, lilacs were the only flowers blooming. And fruit jars made great vases.


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