All, all, are sleeping on the hill.

“The Hill”

WHERE are Elmer, Herman, Bert, Tom and Charley,
The weak of will, the strong of arm, the clown, the boozer, the fighter?
All, all, are sleeping on the hill.

One passed in a fever,
One was burned in a mine, 
One was killed in a brawl,
One died in a jail,
One fell from a bridge toiling for children and wife—
All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.

Where are Ella, Kate, Mag, Lizzie and Edith, 
The tender heart, the simple soul, the loud, the proud, the happy one?—
All, all, are sleeping on the hill.

One died in shameful child-birth,
One of a thwarted love,
One at the hands of a brute in a brothel, 
One of a broken pride, in the search for heart’s desire,
One after life in far-away London and Paris
Was brought to her little space by Ella and Kate and Mag—
All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.

Where are Uncle Isaac and Aunt Emily, 
And old Towny Kincaid and Sevigne Houghton,
And Major Walker who had talked
With venerable men of the revolution?—
All, all, are sleeping on the hill.

They brought them dead sons from the war, 
And daughters whom life had crushed,
And their children fatherless, crying—
All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.

Where is Old Fiddler Jones
Who played with life all his ninety years, 
Braving the sleet with bared breast,
Drinking, rioting, thinking neither of wife nor kin,
Nor gold, nor love, nor heaven?
Lo! he babbles of the fish-frys of long ago,
Of the horse-races of long ago at Clary’s Grove, 
Of what Abe Lincoln said
One time at Springfield.

Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950), Spoon River Anthology. 1916.


For this assignment, my group and I were assigned section 1 of the Cemetery, ” Saint Gabriel”. We distributed the area between the different members of the group, and I was happy of realizing that I had been destined to observe some of the oldest gravestones.

Out of the 16- 20 that I studied, I paid close attention to the material and decoration elements  throughout the decades from the 1870’s all the way until few of the most recent ones, from 1997 until 2015; And I did observe, indeed, that as years passed we seem to have less “monumental” style graves (where personalized sculptures are present, such as lambs for children, angels and columns made out of limestone or hand-cult marble) and gravestones become more uniformed, with similar polished marble, and smaller inscribed decorations.

Some of the  earliest graves belong to very young people as well; Then it seems as if people’s lives stabilize as  the new settler colony establishes it’s roots in the environment. Marie Dizard, passed away in 1904 at 41. Ira S. Mehegan passed away in 1908 at 42. Stella Schoenerr in 1910 at 11 years old, and C.M Columbus at 1916 as an infant. As I stated before in other assignments, it could be due the fact that they were the first or second generation of settler colonials living of this land, in possibly very harsh conditions and not too many resources. Then as we move on through the decades, we could say that the economic crack of 1929 didn’t have any good effect on the health of people, and especially from 1918 – 1919 we have the Spanish Flu pandemic that claimed almost 2,000 lives in a short period of time.

Soldiers coming home from 1st world war had a great impact in everyone’s lives, directly and in an indirect way, bringing diseases that their immune systems couldn’t combat.

When it comes to gender and what kind of gender roles must have been played in those years according to the existence of epitaph, and the kind of vocabulary that is left behind for people to perceive  who they were, I see an overall very strong patriarchal dominance in words: If graves are shared by husband and wife, the husband’s name always goes on top of the wife, and her family name is not noted. Even though I might have found slightly more personalized epitaphs of men versus womxn, I still found a pretty evenly distributed adjectives of each individual playing a role in each family: Wife, brother, husband, mother, grandmother, grandfather.