Thursday, July 28, 2005

Sweet Auburn

Last Sunday, since we were feeling kind of tuckered out from the trip out west, we decided to stay closer to home. We'd been to Forest Hills in Jamaica Plain around Memorial Day, so visited the other great garden cemetery (first in the nation, in fact) north of the Charles, Mount Auburn.

It may seem odd to some to spend time wandering around a city of the dead, but there is so much to see, hear, smell and contemplate when one finds oneself in these locations - Mount Auburn is a wonderful example of American-style urban green space (a la Olmsted) as well as a great survey of the historical memorial architecture from the early-mid 19th century to the present.

There's plenty of bird-watching and tree-identifying to be done there, as well.

Among the famous people we got to see this last time around (and Mt Auburn gives out maps, so we were all set) were: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edwin Land, Oliver Wendell Homes, Julia Ward Howe, BF Skinner, Fannie Farmer...

Harold was particularly enamoured of Buckminster Fuller's gravesite, with its enigmatic appended epitaph "call me trimtab."

I found it poetic justice that he was laid to rest next to Charles Bulfinch.

My favorite memorial, though, had to be Harold Edgerton's with the etched-in references to his best known works of photography and the wonderful lyrical 'physics' poem by Longfellow:

"I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend."

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