Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Adventures in Formatting

The Solomon Taylor stone in Stowe, MA (1773) is a hodge-podge of weird lettering (the w in "who"), awkward spacing (throughout), and bad spelling ("mus," "Prepar," etc.). I can almost convince myself that the carver just hacked away free hand, without any sort of draft, but the visible ruling lines indicate at least some forethought.

It took me quite a while to figure out this inscription:
If you try to read it straight across, it makes no sense. What might "Tombs a doleful Sound must be your Bed" mean? Instead, you have to read it in columns:

Hark from the
Tombs a doleful Sound
my Ears attend
the Cry
ye living men com
view the Ground
where you must shortly lie

Princes this Clay
must be your Bed
in Spite of all
your Tow,rs
The tall the wise
the Rev,rend Head
must lie as low
as ours

These verses are from a hymn by Isaac Watts.

1 comment:

Robert J. said...

Ah, that's a late Moses Worster stone. Quite a beautiful one for him, and very finely done. His coils and pinwheels are unmistakable, inherited through his father from the very early Essex County carvers. And he was no writing-master, that's for sure.

The small specimen down the street from me: