(redirected from Epitaphs)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.


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 ?
Critique: Unique, compelling, memorable, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Canada's Dream Shall Be of Them: Canadian Epitaphs of the Great War" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition for both community and academic library collections.
In chapter 2, tracing residence patterns in epitaphs, Tackett distinguishes between two different categories of sociopolitical elite: "capital elites," who "tended to serve generation after generation in offices of national prominence," and "provincial elites," who "tended to serve occasionally and only in local offices" (87).
Tombstones and epitaphs on graves of mujahideen killed in the past many years were broken and dislodged, Ghulam Nabi Gulistan, a member of local Auqaf committee, told media men.
Only one son survived, and a nephew buried her with three epitaphs that form part of Tackett's epigraphic data.
With this in mind, following Conceptual Metaphor Theory (henceforth CMT) as theoretical paradigm, this paper presents a comparative study of death metaphors on a sample of epitaphs from East Highgate Cemetery and from the Cemetery of Albacete.
Paul Mariani's magnum opus, Epitaphs for the Journey crowns his 42-year career with six previous books of poems, several critical studies of poets, two collections of essays, a spiritual memoir, and five highly respected biographies of poets who have influenced his craft--William Carlos Williams, John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Hart Crane, and Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Cut these words into my stone; ancient Greek epitaphs.
The charity's Imelda Redmond said: "Spike's epitaph is legendary and many of the greats have been immortalised by their epitaphs.
The charity's Imelda Redmond said: "Spike Milligan's epitaph is legendary and many of the greats have been immortalised by their epitaphs.
The best epitaphs are those written in the hearts and minds of those we leave behind and to be remembered for inspiring others would be a wonderful thing.
7) According to Scodel, "the long description of the ideal reader" in many such epitaphs, together with "the emphasis upon the uncertainty of his or her appearance" and response, begins in English epitaphs in the 1740s and extends through about 1820 (328).
Newstock, Quoting Death in Early Modern England: The Poetics of Epitaphs Beyond the Tomb, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.