Forest Hills Cemetery offers mystery, peace

Jamaica Plain jewel is much more than just a final resting place.

Raindrops falling, plink-plink, on marimba sculptures. The crunch of leaves underfoot. The carillon awakening at noon, sending its song over hills and valleys. Trees — white oak, cypress, birch — rustling in the wind on the banks of Lake Hibiscus. If you listen intently, and use a bit of imagination, you can hear even more at Jamaica Plain’s Forest Hills Cemetery, a 275-acre otherworldly oasis that is truly one of Boston’s great treasures. Listen for the poetry of Anne Sexton or the stemwinders of leading abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, both buried in these grounds. Listen, also, for the hidden stories — that of a Mr. Charles Hazen, who died in 1849, or of Miss Rebecca Robeson, dead at 16 months, on December 18, 1840, her heartbreaking tale lost to history. Much more than a final resting place, Forest Hills is an inviting sculpture garden and arboretum, alive with trilling birds, striking installations, lush knolls, and hidden paths. Upon entering its wrought-iron gates, the outside world fades, giving way to mystery, peace, and reflection. Mortality catches up with all, the gates seem to say, so come inside, open your senses, and receive their many gifts.

WHAT DO YOU HEAR? Send ideas to or via Twitter @swhelman.