The Tombstone of William Henry "Harry" Thornton.
The Tombstone of William Henry “Harry” Thornton.
William Henry “Harry” Thornton, was a classical pianist who played for the troops in World War I but sadly succumbed to the worldwide flu pandemic of 1918 at age 35. His family had a grand piano, lid open, carved in stone and engraved with his name just over the keys. A lyric on the side of the piano reads: “Sweet thou art sleeping; Cradled on my heart; Safe in god’s keeping; While I must weep apart.” The words are an English translation from the Puccini opera, “Madama Butterfly.” In place of sheet music on the music stand was a “broadsheet” with an engraving of Thornton playing the piano. The monument has fallen into some disrepair over the years, and the “sheet music” have gone missing along with the piano lid. It is a haunting image that reminds us that nothing lasts forever. This remarkable Tombstone can be found in Highgate Eastern cemetery, London, England.