Saturday, July 7, 2012

Grave Interpretations: Classic Paintings & Poetry...

After visiting my favorite cemetery yesterday, I was moved to look up old/classic paintings that depict graveyards. I found quite a few, and picked out a collection of works that I like for various reasons.  Mood, shape, use of artists eye reflects so much, whether it be literal, or more cerebral. As I am wont to do from time to time, I am posting some of these beautiful old works with works of a different form.  Paintings and poetry.  Enjoy.

("The Jewish Cemetery"; Artist:  Jacob von Ruisdael, c. 1655)
("The Cemetery in Gastein";  Artist:  Rudolph von Alt, c. 1898)
by Alessio Tummolillo

I kill time in cemeteries.

Sticky, humid cemeteries in the summer.
Golden, dead cemeteries in the fall.
Barren, watchful cemeteries in the winter.
Greeting the new dead in the spring.

When I have time to kill, I do it in mausoleums, sepulchers, graveyards.
I use, abuse, and muse over the refused, when I have time to kill.

To remind myself I'm alive.
To remind myself I'll die.
To remind myself to remember I'll be forgotten.
To remind myself I'll be
Reduced to ashes
Behind marble plaque
Thrown in the sea,
Where I'll rest for eternity.

Just to remind myself I'm not alone.
That we're all headed to the Sunset Limited.
("Cloister Cemetery in The Snow"; Artist:  Caspar David Friedrich, c. 1817-19)
("The Cemetery Entrance"; Artist:  Caspar David Friedrich, c. 1825)
by Pablo Neruda

There are cemeteries that are lonely,
graves full of bones that do not make a sound,
the heart moving through a tunnel,
in it darkness, darkness, darkness,
like a shipwreck we die going into ourselves,
as though we were drowning inside our hearts,
as though we lived falling out of the skin into the soul.

And there are corpses,
feet made of cold and sticky clay,
death is inside the bones,
like a barking where there are no dogs,
coming out from bells somewhere, from graves somewhere,
growing in the damp air like tears of rain.

Sometimes I see alone
coffins under sail,
embarking with the pale dead, with women that have dead hair,
with bakers who are as white as angels,
and pensive young girls married to notary publics,
caskets sailing up the vertical river of the dead,
the river of dark purple,
moving upstream with sails filled out by the sound of death,
filled by the sound of death which is silence.

Death arrives among all that sound
like a shoe with no foot in it, like a suit with no man in it,
comes and knocks, using a ring with no stone in it, with no
finger in it,
comes and shouts with no mouth, with no tongue, with no
Nevertheless its steps can be heard
and its clothing makes a hushed sound, like a tree.

I'm not sure, I understand only a little, I can hardly see,
but it seems to me that its singing has the color of damp violets,
of violets that are at home in the earth,
because the face of death is green,
and the look death gives is green,
with the penetrating dampness of a violet leaf
and the somber color of embittered winter.

But death also goes through the world dressed as a broom,
lapping the floor, looking for dead bodies,
death is inside the broom,
the broom is the tongue of death looking for corpses,
it is the needle of death looking for thread.

Death is inside the folding cots:
it spends its life sleeping on the slow mattresses,
in the black blankets, and suddenly breathes out:
it blows out a mournful sound that swells the sheets,
and the beds go sailing toward a port
where death is waiting, dressed like an admiral.
("Graveyard in The Tyrol 2";  Artist:  John Singer Sargent, c. 1914)
("The Ancient Cross and Round Tower at Clonmacnois";
Artist: William Henry Bartlett, c. 1841) 
("Lithuanian Graveyard"; Artist:  Mikalojus Ciurlionis, c. 1909)
by Raymond A. Foss

Tactile memories
in the cemetery stones
visual reflections of the times
the ages in which the country knew
imagery of hell, of heaven,
of lives as they were lived,
or of how they want to be remembered
tactile granite, marble, slate,
yielding in their turn to the rain,
the ice, the lichen, the moss,
the wind, the ages
Hear the whispers in the wind
the feel of the cemetery stones
rough, cool, smooth
places of remembrance
to be felt
("Nor'wester in The Cemetery";  Artist:  William A. Sutton, c. 1950)
("Quesada Cemetery";  Artist:  Rafael Zabaleta, c. ?)
("Arabs I (Cemetery)";  Artist:  Wassily Kandinsky, c. 1909)


  1. I have to go to Bonaventure. I must photo the place.

    1. The Bonaventure is a great cemetery for photographs, but 'Laurel Grove' (North) has become my favorite Savannah cemetery to 'haunt'. Either place won't be a disappointment. :)