Monday, June 4, 2007

A child's grave

This is a child's grave at Brighton cemetery, Melbourne. I came across it accidently, while strolling up the hill there the day I was photographing the Eastgate mausoleum (see below). I'm not sure of the date of this grave, but its absolutely covered in toys which have been bleached by the sun. I don't know whether someone renews the toys, or they were a once-off grave gift. Obviously someone wanted to bestow love on a child beyond the veil of death. There must be nothing more bitter than losing a child to death. Although before antibiotics and other super medical advances it used to happen absolutely all the time. It must have been very tiring, physically and emotionally, for women to be giving birth only to have their baby, or later their child die. Come to think of it, lots of women died from childbirth related problems too. Apparently the notion of "childhood" and the "affectionate family unit" was a phenomenon of the rise of the middle class (in 19th century Britain we're talking here) and before that people just thought of children as little adults, spawned in order to continue the family line. I can't see how children still would not have been loved, but then again, hey, I wasn't there so I don't really know. If you want to read an interesting book about the risks of allowing yourself to love another, such as a child - your child - Diane Purkiss's "At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins and Other Troublesome Things" (New York University Press 2000) is concerned with the way fairies were euphemisms for the dead, often the infant dead, among other things.

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