Posts Tagged ‘winged hourglass’

The winged hourglass is a symbol of mortality, but it is a much rarer find than a weeping willow or an urn. Imagine my delight when I found multiple examples in the Olmstead family plot in Harrisburg Cemetery.


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A winged hourglass adorns each step down to the family plot.

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The winged hourglass is one of the rarest but clearest symbols of mortality in a cemetery. Time flies, it cautions us, this life is but a brief span. Be prepared always for death.

David and Juliana Watts of Carlisle could not have communicated it better if they had selected a version of the classic New England epitaph for their memorial:

Remember me as you pass by,
As you are now, so once was I,
As I am now, so you will be,
Prepare for death and follow me.


Yet while the message of the winged hourglass can be quite serious, its gravity is lightened by its own visual pun. The designer of the Gaddis family monument in Columbus’ Union Cemetery was not all solemnity. The memorial contains an actual timekeeper in the form of a sundial atop the column that informs us playfully “I count none but sunny hours.” I trust that that is absolutely true.



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