epitaph


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epitaph,

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.

Epitaph

 

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 classic literature ?
Up and down the long grassy aisles they wandered, reading the quaint, voluminous epitaphs, carved in an age that had more leisure than our own.
Great-Grandmother seemed to run short of rhymes at the last of the epitaph," commented Dan.
I think Grandmother King intended the last of the epitaph to be in blank verse," said Felicity with dignity.
Hereupon Homer remembered the oracle and, perceiving that the end of his life had come composed his own epitaph.
The sturdy old man, whom he had left so short a time before, was gone, then, and this was all his epitaph.
Punch, it may be remarked, seemed to be pointing with the tip of his cap to a most flourishing epitaph, and to be chuckling over it with all his heart.
It has been used as a prison for political offenders for two or three hundred years, and its dungeon walls are scarred with the rudely carved names of many and many a captive who fretted his life away here and left no record of himself but these sad epitaphs wrought with his own hands.
I take no interest in creeping round dim and chilly churches behind wheezy old men, and reading epitaphs.
Harris, however, revels in tombs, and graves, and epitaphs, and monumental inscriptions, and the thought of not seeing Mrs.
Having so much to do with the recognition of local sanctities, the habit of connecting the very trees and stones of a particular spot of earth with the great events of life, till the low walls, the green mounds, the half-obliterated epitaphs, seemed full of oracular voices, even the religion of those people of the dales appeared but as another link between them and the solemn imageries of the natural world.
Corral, Epitaph dramatizes the shootout and its aftermath.
mourning, many remembered Mandela's prophetic words that will stand as a fitting epitaph to the father of South Africa's freedom.