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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Graveyard humor and a Misale

D. Hillson published this series of epitaphs on postcards in 1907, but I haven’t been able to find out anything about the publisher or the set. The first one I saw – many years ago – was the “Listen: Mother Aunt and Me…” which contains the word “misale.” (Not to mention poor grammar!) The word puzzled me, and it does still. I can’t find reference to it, not even in my unabridged Webster’s nor in the full set of Oxford English Dictionary (nor the supplements) on my library shelves. One can assume that it means something on the order of “misjudged” but who among you can find the true definition and source?

For some reason our species has enjoyed this rather macabre form of humor for centuries. What is the attraction? Perhaps it is because we, among all species on Earth, are aware of our mortality. Knowing that each of us will eventually die, perhaps we have this need to thumb our noses at Death. Not to mention the desire – sometimes realized on actual headstones – to have the last word.

I let the postcards speak for themselves.

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