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  • Like many others here, I find angels fascinating but my attraction tends towards to physical rather than metaphysical manifestations of the form.

    St. Louis is fortunate to possess two remarkable cemeteries, filled with the graves of the notable as well as the less-recognized, many of whom are listed here.

    Of the two, Bellefontaine and Calvary Cemeteries, my favorite is Bellefontaine. The reason why is captured in the photograph above. This extraordinary statue of an angel stands over the tomb of Sidney Rowland Francis, a very successful grain merchant who died in 1893. Tombs from this period tend towards the ostentatious and this is no exception. However, I always find myself looking beyond any vulgarity that a modern mind might assign to this memorial. Somehow, despite this being a showy manifestation of wealth at a time when the disparity between rich and poor was almost as bad as it is now, that doesn't register very deeply. What does register are echoes of the Shelley of 'Ozymandias' and a sense that this is just the early stages of an inexorable decline to dust. The body has already been taken, the memorial will follow.

    The corrosion of the surface of this bronze statue already speaks to this decay. A black smudge across the face of the angel is a mark of the industrial pollution that poisoned the air of St. Louis through much of the 20th century. This angel is already a testament to a history not belonging to Mr. Francis.

    What more will etch that serene face in years to come?

    I can only wonder.
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