Charles Cowling

“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below…”

Thus wicked King Claudius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. He was speaking of his own spiritual quandary, but in many burial grounds the memorials possibly feel he speaks for them, too.

I’m not thinking of those blameless, plain stones whose simple inscriptions testify to sincere, humble faith and assert the equality of all in the sight of God.

No, I’m thinking of the whoppers, those mega-memorials whose bigged-up magnificence purportedly serves solely to swell the glory of the Supreme Being. Neither curlicue nor finial, swag, foliation nor cherubic cluster can blind us to their real purpose.

Come off it, chaps, you’re there to glorify your tenant. What you’re actually saying is, “Beneath me lies a helluva guy, the biggest cheese in this graveyard. Think about that, you mighty, and despair!”

Every such memorial eventually goes the way of Ozymandias, himself reduced by time, sandstorms and other indignities to “two vast and trunkless legs of stone … in the desert.”

Time has a sardonic sense of humour.

So does the Lithuanian mafia.

The headstone at the top commemorates a dead mobster in the most unashamed and unambiguous terms, shorn of any supernatural pretension. Click on him. Marvel at the car and the bling.

A helluva guy.

But my, how he’ll date.

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