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strictly, an inscription on a tomb; by extension, a statement, usually in verse, commemorating the dead. The earliest such inscriptions are those found on Egyptian sarcophagi. In England epitaphs did not begin to assume a literary character until the time of Elizabeth I. Ben Jonson, John Milton, Alexander Pope, and Samuel Johnson were considered masters of the art. The epitaph on Ben Jonson's own tomb in Westminster Abbey was splendidly brief: "O rare Ben Jonson!" Epitaphs are often humorous. It is not known whether the epitaph printed below is amusing by design or by accident: Here lie I Martin Elginbrodde: Have mercy on my soul, Lord God, As I wad do, were I Lord God, And ye were Martin Elginbrodde.



a gravestone inscription, generally in verse. A verse epitaph is a short poem, usually with a message to the deceased or from the deceased to passersby, for example, “Passerby, stop! . . .”

An epitaph may be an actual inscription on a gravestone or a short literary work, written as if for a gravestone, appearing in a collection of poetry. In European literature the epitaph developed as a variation of the classical epigram; noteworthy early epitaphs include those by Simonides of Ceos (fifth century B.C.). A popular genre in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the age of classicism, the epitaph subsequently came to be little used. The parodie or satiric epitaph, such as those written by R. Burns, is similar to the epigram of modern times and has survived longer than other types of epitaph. In modern times, epitaphs on gravestones or memorials that have literary merit are a rare phenomenon; an example is A. V. Lunacharskii’s epitaph to the fighters of the revolution on the Field of Mars.

References in periodicals archive ?
Recent and ongoing geotechnical investigation and monitoring at the Epitaph Slip site indicates that two main geological processes are occurring.
The research undertaken by Tackett is remarkable, with the creation of a huge database derived from several thousands of excavated epitaphs recording the lives of men and women from the seventh to the tenth centuries.
Like many stories of the West, Epitaph is part elegy and part eulogy, but it's also part regret: Unlike some tellings of this story, this gunfight is not an inevitable clash between law and lawlessness, but one rooted in a pileup of coincidences, personal histories and miscalculations.
Everyone's just trying to find their place, and hopefully we'll all get there eventually," Searle tells Epitaph.
As the country of 53million came to a standstill at the start of 10 days of Mandela's prophetic words that will stand as a fitting epitaph to the father of South Africa's freedom.
The epitaph below thus demonstrates its partisan nature and legitimises the winners of the war:
His poetry will doubtless stand the test of time, and the epitaph that he came up with when asked in an interview must be emphasised.
THE immortal words "I told you I was ill" on Spike Milligan's headstone have been voted the top epitaph.
London, June 22 (ANI): An epitaph on the 1800-year-old tombstone of an ancient gladiator named Diodorus suggests that he may have died because of a bad call from a ref, according to Michael Carter, a professor at Brock University in St.
The shock departure came as the band prepared for their Epitaph tour, which is being advertised as their last.
This essay will build on those insights but suggest a more historically specific reading of Wordsworth's epitaphic mode: his use of the epitaph in order to develop, theorize, and justify a new poetics and a new authorial role in relation to an expanding print culture.
Newstock cites a variety of evidence that suggests that early modern culture was obsessed with death, noting that it was a frequent--even favorite--topic among Elizabethan men of letters to such a great extent that the epitaph became an important literary genre in its own right.