Live is a span, a fleeting hour

10 06 2009

Asbury Cemetery in Columbus is not only well maintained, but they have done a good job of repairing some of the older tombstones, such as this one for Zechariah Algire. Despite the top 3/4 of the stone having broken off at one point, it is still remarkably legible.

The top features a broken column, symbolizing a life cut short. It is also signed by the stonecarver, J. W. Jungkurth of Lithopolis.

Zechariah Algire, Asbury Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Amy Crow, 9 June 2009; all rights reserved.

Zechariah Algire, Asbury Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Amy Crow, 9 June 2009; all rights reserved.

“In memory
of
ZECHARIAH
ALGIRE
born Decemr 1st 1813
died March 27th 1844
aged 30 years,
3 months and
26 days.
Life is a span, a fleeting hour.
How soon the vapour flies.
Man is a tender, transient flow’r
That e’en in blooming dies.
J. W. Jungkurth
Lithopolis”

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2 responses

10 06 2009
Reference Services

What a beautiful tombstone!

4 02 2010
Dan

I enjoyed your site. I took upon myself to locate the origins of the verse
‘LIFE is a span, a fleeting hoar;
How soon the vapour flies !
Man Is a tender, transient flow’s.
That oft in blooming dies.’

It was written by Anne Steele, who lived 1716-1778 in Broughton, Hampshire, England. She was the daughter of a lay Baptist preacher who according to one source lost her mother her 3, was an invalid at 19 due to a hip injury, and her fiance drowned the day before they were to be married. She is credited with 144 hymns and 34 Psalms.

Here’s the full version from a book published in 1783. I notice that the engraver of the headstone altered the verse by changing ‘oft’ to ‘e’en”. (Notice the contraction to keep the meter, since even would be 2 syllables. )

VERSES on LIFE by Miss Steele.

LIFE is a span, a fleeting hoar;
How soon the vapour flies !
Man Is a tender, transient flow’r.
That oft in blooming dies.

Hope looks beyond the bound of time,
When what we now deplore
Shall rise in full immortal prime,
And bloom to fade no more.

Say, does not heav’n our comforts mix
With more than equal pain,
To teach us, if our hearts we fix
On earth, we fix in vain ?

Then be our earthly joys resign’d,
Since here we cannot rest ;
For earthly joys were ne’er design’d
To make us fully bless’d.

Then cease fond nature, cease thy tears.
Religion points on high ;
There everlasting Spring appears,
And joys that cannot die.

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