Writers of The Past, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

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The meaning of life is not to be discovered only after death in some hidden, mysterious realm; on the contrary, it can be found by eating the succulent fruit of the Tree of Life and by living in the here and now as fully and creatively as we can.
Paul Kurtz


On a cool, sunny autumn day I  set out to journey to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts. Sleepy Hollow, is one of the largest cemeteries in Concord.  The cemetery, can be found one block east of Monument Square, on Bedford Street. It has an estimated 10,000 gravesites, many of local, national, and international interest. It was one of the first cemeteries in the United States to be designed to have a sylvan character and has also been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Two highly visited areas are Authors Ridge, a measure of Concord’s dominance of 19th century American literature, and the Melvin Memorial. In 1855, the town bought 25 acres of near by farm land and consecrated it as Sleepy Hollow cemetery and had a  dedication ceremony later that year. The ceremony featured Ralph Waldo Emerson a member of the Cemetery Committee an orator was followed by William Ellery Channing reading his poem,

                                          “Sleepy Hollow”              

No abbey’s gloom, nor dark cathedral-stoops,
No winding torches paint the midnight air; Here the green pines delight, the aspen droops
Along the modest pathways, and those fair Pale asters of the season spread their plumes
Around this field, fit garden for our tombs.

And shalt thou pause to hear some funeral bell
Slow stealing o’er thy heart in this calm place, Not with a throb of pain, a feverish knell,
But in its kind and supplicating grace, It says, Go, pilgrim, on thy march, be more
Friend to the friendless than thou wast before;

Learn from the loved one’s rest serenity:
To-morrow that soft bell for thee shall sound, And thou repose beneath the whispering tree,
One tribute more to this submissive ground;— Prison thy soul from malice, bar out pride,
Nor these pale flowers nor this still field deride:

Rather to those ascents of being turn,
Where a ne’er-setting sun illumes the year Eternal, and the incessant watch-fires burn
Of unspent holiness and goodness clear,— Forget man’s littleness, deserve the best,
God’s mercy in thy thought and life confest.

 It was with great eagerness as I poised the idea of this journey  to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  Something seemed to call to me to seek more of the area of Concord of  past fellow writers that I share a joy of reading that infuse me greatly. I have spent many years of my life time with quizzical wondering of their life time in the area of Concord. I searched to find further meaning  and understanding of the area as maybe how they perceived  of their particular part of the world during their time of life with comparison to todays outlook on life’s varieties.


Nathaniel Hawthorn , July 4th,1804 –May 19th, 1864 

American Novelist, Short Story Writer

alcott louisa_may_alcott

Louisa May Alcott, November 29th,1832-March 6th, 1864

American Novelist


Ralph Waldo Emerson, May 25th, 1803-April 27th, 1882

Philosopher, Clergyman, Orator, Influential Writer

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau July 12th, 1817-May 6th, 1862

American author, Poet, Abolitionist, Naturalist


My  search began much as normal with locating the entry gate to the cemetery. With relative ease I found the gate and entered and sought a place to park. I then wandered around seeking markings to direct me to Authors Ridge. That was as well with significant ease. The cemetery was at first daunting with clouds covering the sky and light drizzle began to fall. I was not about to be deterred since I was already within the bounds of my destination. I located the pathway up the hill to Authors Ridge and started the climb as my eyes took in the vast surrounds of my present environ.

At first I was surprised that there was an emptiness of  others exploring the area. Soon though I was greeted by others traversing the pathway seeking out as well the same authors as I. There was this passionate display of sharing with me of what they found of interest as well as locations of several of the grave markers.

Once though I made it to the top of the hill I stood within absolute stillness with not that of another visitor within of my surrounds except for my grandson whom as well had the interest of going with me so that he too could learn more of these prominent historic writers of our past.

defogauthorsridge monument

warmpolarizerthe path leading to authorshill1

A view towards the top of Authors Ridge

While here I ran into a group of college students from France. With great excitement they shared with me of what touched their hearts in discussions as they were about to depart. I found that which I did not expect of here the act of sharing mutual passions of words and to what sharing can do with breaking down boundaries, being open to experience within the present, camaraderie in desire for our world to be at peace everywhere. Sometimes with stepping back into time there is great significance of learning of where our footsteps have the potential to take of us within our world, the choices we make, the road that we journey forth ward upon and how each of us is greatly a significant player amongst the field of all human kind. Through the power of thought and that of the written words we share.

colorlookshawthornfamily graveplot

The Hawthorne family plot


“Our Creator would never have made such lovely days, and have given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above and beyond all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne

warmpolarizerwifeofnathaniel hawthorn

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s wife’s, grave marker

alcott family grave

The Alcott Family Plot


“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

Louisa May Alcott

colorlooksalcott family plot

The Emerson Family Plot


A look beyond of my presence of standing around Author’s Hill


The grave site markers for Lidian, Ralph and  Ellen Emerson. His wife and daughter surround of him on each side.


Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Death comes to all, but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
Ralph Waldo Emerson


“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Then in my valiant search for the grave marker for Henry David Thoreau, I went sliding down a hill across a grave. There was as if a push to my right side and here I was sliding camera in hand down a hill towards what appeared to be water and a mist enveloping of my surrounds. I was looked at by my grandson with puzzlement of what had happened as we were searching. The mist came upwards and changed greatly to a thickness I have never seen before.

dayfornightgraveyard and mist rising

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Henry David Thoreau

Without of thought words came to me that made such relative sense to me of a quote he had written. I heard that of his resting place was not that of him but his favorite of place to be was Walden Pond.


I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
Henry David Thoreau

So for me, I was meant to understand in the present that this place was not important to him but that which infused life of him. Later I would discover when home that I had in fact slid down across his gravesite unknowingly at the time.

The place I was to remember was his favorite place to contemplate the quarries of his life and write from the environ of was Walden Pond.

a halo of light around the pond

softlight path around pond



Henry David Thoreau’s special part of Walden pond

All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hours toil. The fight to the finish spirit is the one… characteristic we must posses if we are to face the future as finishers.
Henry David Thoreau


It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
Henry David Thoreau


What I found within the stillness was life in action all around of me. The poets, the writers, the dreamers, the wonderers, the swimmers, the kayakers, the fishermen. All fell within the bounds of respecting where they ventured with smiling faces and an eagerness to be present to living life in fullness with eyes a glimmer, to what awaited of them within their journey.


2 responses to “Writers of The Past, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

  1. Exquisite colourful photographs capturing the “frozen moment” in time so well and provoking a multitude of thoughts.

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