Born in Kansas in 1868 while his parents were homesteading , Edgar Lee Masters, author of the Spoon River Anthology, spent his early childhood in Illinois.
The Anthology, was originally published as a serialized version in 1914-15. Original, provocative and influentual, it speaks of the dead in an Illinois graveyard, with haunting details from their lives. Masters wove a thread of partial reality throughout the Anthology. Many of the characters and their experiences can be identified with former residents of Lewistown and Petersburg, Illinois. The Anthology has been compared with Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
Masters died in 1950, and was buried in Oakland Cemetery, Petersburg, Menard Co., Illinois.
I had no objection at all
To selling my household effects at auction
On the village square.
It gave my beloved flock the chance
To get something which had belonged to me
For a memorial.
But that trunk which was struck off
To Burchard, the grog-keeper!
Did you know it contained the manuscripts
Of a lifetime of sermons?
And he burned them as waste paper.
~~ Rev. Abner Peet
Toronto doesn’t have too many places where the dreamers, the world-weary and the pensive can find comfort and quiet contemplation. We do, however, have some of Canada’s finest cemeteries.
Our preference is for tall stately pines, overpowering oaks, green grass and plenty of open sky. Toronto’s cemeteries are botanical gems. Mount Pleasant has the best collection of indigenous trees and foliage found in any North American city. Toronto’s graveyards also offer anyone interested in Victorian, Gothic and Renaissance revivalist architecture a plethora of exceptional examples.
Mount Pleasant and the Necropolis, both non-sectarian cemeteries, are the offspring of Toronto’s first non-sectarian burial place, Potter’s Field, which was founded in 1832 to house the immigrants who succumbed to cholera and other illnesses, and who were excluded from the Anglican and Catholic burial grounds. They also house the prominent city founding families as well as more modern dynasties.
As you stand in the heart of Mount Pleasant, the city disappears. Giant maple trees obscure Toronto’s skyscrapers; the whirl of traffic is replaced by the rush of the wind through Babylonian willows. Leaves flutter to the ground like confetti. Shadows dance and caress across its velvet green grass canvas. It’s a chance to put life in perspective and remind yourself of the fleeting nature of our existence.
Images: © Red Star Cafe