Every man should keep a fair-sized cemetery in which to bury the faults of his friends. – Henry Ward Beecher
I happen to be lucky enough to live not that far from one of the literary capitals of the nineteenth century: Concord, Massachusetts. The center of the transcendentalist movement, Concord saw more than its fair share of literary big wigs. Close friends in life, many of them are going to be staying close in perpetuity. The graves of Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and Amos Bronson Alcott are not merely in the same cemetery, they are all along the same ridge.
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord can be tricky to maneuver around in while in a vehicle but there are some small areas where you can park a car and get out to walk around. Situated in and amongst the trees, it doesn’t have the creepy aura that many old cemeteries possess. The large family plots with elaborate monuments are spread out rather than strictly regimented and with so much growing in and around the graves, it’s hard not to find everything inspiring rather than somber.
While the history nerd in me already finds very old cemeteries fascinating, it is the multitude of famous and influential writers, philosophers, and poets that bring many visitors to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery every year. What surprised me most was seeing all the pens laid before the gravestones of those writers; it also made tremendous sense, despite the startling juxtaposition of a bright Bic pen beside the weather worn marble of Louisa May Alcott’s stone. Hers was my favorite because of all the letters and notes written by children and held in place beneath rocks at the base of her individual marker. While the others were primarily writing for adults, she managed to convey many of those same ideals but in a way that children could understand and that continues to excite and inspire.