Thursday, October 06, 2005


This blog is to suggest ideas for your participation. Planting ideas and roses and lavender. About suggestions for the 'English' Cemetery so it can again become beautiful. (What we call in England 'putting a bee in one's bonnet'.) As sculpture garden, a poetry garden, that the world could help create in Florence.

We have been talking about our sculptress friend Amalia Ciardi Dupré who has sculpted for the Emergency Appeal the 'Clasped Hands' of Elizabeth and Robert and whose ancestors made the statues of St Zenobius and St Reparata on the Duomo's facade and the statues of St Francis and St Clare in San Rufino in Assisi as well as sculptures of Cain and Abel for the Czar in the Hermitage. There is no statue in Florence to Beatrice. I asked Amalia for a Dante and Beatrice in Paradise that we could place in the niche at the other end of this cemetery which would be seen by all Florence's traffic in the viale. Our sculptress created this model which could be then made life-size for 10,000 euro. (I think Beatrice is putting the bee in Dante's bonnet about writing his poem, the Commedia!) Would someone like to give such a gift to Florence?

In this way we would be linking poetry and sculpture.

There is also a sundial with Robert Browning's lines from Rabbi Ben Ezra, 'Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be', with the winged hourglass seen so often also on our nineteenth-century tombs, influenced by Champollion and Rosselini's expedition to Egypt and Nubia. We could place it on a stone capstan we have so visitors could find it.It is on sale for $34 on the web at
Would someone like to give such a gift to Florence?

There are quatrains Walter Savage Landor wrote we could have incised on Carrara marble and placed about the cemetery, again for contemplation. For instance:

Death stands above me, whispering low
I know not what into my ear:
Of his strange language all I know
Is, there is not a word of fear.

We already have Elizabeth Barrett Browning's lines from Aurora Leigh and her epitaph for Lily Cottrell incised in Carrara marble with Lord Leighton's lily beside them, given to us by the Armstrong Browning Library of Baylor University in the arch of the Gatehouse so readers may pause and read.

One of my dreams is of having a second bell on the wall facing the Cemetery that we could ring when it is time to close the Cemetery, instead of only the one that is rung by people wanting us to open the Cemetery. And which we know was so rung by a descendant in 1945 coming to visit his Sewell ancestors' tombs. Our rival Cemetery has a siren. We only want what will evoke the nineteenth century so that visitors will step back in time to a more hand-crafted era of fine poetry and sculpture and the tenderness of family members to each other, memories of the past to teach the future beauty and wisdom. Why I took out the modern plastic and metal and built the library with wooden bookshelves, Savonarola chairs and damask blue and green curtains, so that one could step into the nineteenth century's appreciation of medieval and Renaissance hand-crafting. The modern traffic can swirl about us but inside there is peace and the great thick walls of the Gatehouse make the library absolutely silent.

Already an American has given us iris bulbs, the purple wild iris that are the true Florence lily, which propagate happily in our cemetery's soil. A Russian gave me money to buy flowers for Evgen Polyakov's tomb and I bought daffodil bulbs and planted these, remembering that my nuns had so planted daffodils over a hundred years ago around the two tombs of their sisters buried in an Sussex graveyard and that these are now flourishing like Wordsworth's 'cloud of daffodils'. (Would someone like to bring a hundred daffodil bulbs from England and plant them here to join our Florentine purple iris/lilies?) And just today I was told by a visitor in her fifties that when she would come here as a five-year-old child with her governess there were delicious wild strawberries growing on the tombs.

Our petition is at

If you wish to deposit directly into the Emergency Appeal Fund you can do so at the Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, Ag. 30, Viale Petrarca, Firenze, for the Chiesa Evangelica Riformata Svizzera-Restauro Beni account 849 00 066666, ABI 6160, CAB 2839, Coordinate bancarie B 06160 02389 000066666C00, IBAN IT85B06160028390000066666C00, Swift CRFI-IT-3F