Offerings for Thoreau at Sleepy Hollow

On March 13, I visited Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, MA. The weather was fair and mild; the snow was melting into rivulets; the mud was copious. As Emily Dickinson wrote:

Dear March – Come in –
How glad I am –
I hoped for you before –
Put down your Hat –
You must have walked –
How out of Breath you are –
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest –
Did you leave Nature well –
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me –
I have so much to tell –

Sleepy Hollow is bigger than I thought it would be. There is no parking lot that I could see, only long, narrow paths wide enough for a single car, just like in any other garden cemetery, like Mt. Auburn in Cambridge, or Mt. Hope here in Rochester. I stopped at a small cul-de-sac (the first place I found where I wouldn’t be blocking the way) and got out of the car, ready to saunter around, looking for certain graves that I wot of.

By some strange coincidence, I had parked right at the foot of Author’s Ridge, and a brief slog brought me to the top of a small hill in search of Thoreau. I knew his stone would be small and figured it would be inconspicuous among the grander monuments. I was wrong:


It was tough to tell which items were new, and which had been recently uncovered by the melting snow. But here’s the inventory:

  • 11 pens and pencils, compactly grouped as if left by a single person
  • 4 (?) feathers
  • a bird’s nest
  • sprays of evergreen
  • a rose
  • pine cones
  • small sticks
  • various stones and pebbles, including a stone on top of another stone
  • a piece of paper under a rock
  • a quarter

The small, simply-engraved head stone–“Henry”–complements the humble nature of the offerings.

3 thoughts on “Offerings for Thoreau at Sleepy Hollow

  1. I drive by Sleepy Hollow on my way to work. On occasion, when I am running early, I stop by. I am struck by all of the things left for Henry, Louisa May Alcott, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. All those things to write with, but never anything to write on. 🙂


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