Friday, 21 January 2011

Grave Words 1

She sleeps alone at last…

... was US humorist Robert Benchley’s famous suggested epitaph for an actress.  But here are some absolutely genuine ones…

Here lie the bones of William Jones,
Who when alive collected bones.
But Death, that bony grizzly spectre,
That most amazing bone collector,
Has boned poor Jones, so snug and tidy,
That here he lies in Bona Fide.

[Unknown location]

Here lies Tam Reid,
Who was chokit to died
Wi' taking a feed
O' butter and breed
Wi' owre muckle speed
When he had nae need –
But just for greed.


My time was come! My days were spent!
I was called – and away I went!

[Painswick Churchyard, Glos.]

And then there’s the extraordinary tale of Spike Milligan’s epitaph:  I told you I was ill.  The great man was buried at St Thomas's Church cemetery in Winchelsea, East Sussex, in 2002, but the Chichester Diocese refused to allow the witty one-liner.  After a two-year wrangle a compromise was eventually reached with the Irish translation, Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite, and additionally in English, Love, light, peace.  The BBC’s explanation of the monumental nonsense can be found here.

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