Week Forty-Four: Epitaph

Here Lies the Epitaph

In Greek, the word epitaph literally means, “on the tomb.” These short, sometimes pithy, sometimes funny, gravestone inscriptions are often found underneath the name and birth and death dates of the person being memorialized. Though not all epitaphs are poetic, the most moving and memorable ones often are. Shakespeare’s self-penned epitaph even comes with a curse:

GOOD FREND FOR IESVS SAKE FORBEARE
TO DIGG THE DVST ENCLOASED HEARE
BLESTe BE Ye MAN Yt SPARES THES STONES
AND CVRST BE HE Yt MOVES MY BONES

Key Features of the Epitaph

Content: Remarks in some way upon the life and/or character of the person being memorialized

Form: Short; sometimes pithy, sometimes humorous

Rhyme: Sometimes rhymed

Examples

For a great collection of epitaphs of celebrities and historical figures, see the article “29 Unforgettable Epitaphs” at mentalfloss.com.

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An Original Epitaph

Handshakes and High Fives
? – 2020

While bows and waves
May yet survive,
We must say farewell
To handshakes and high fives.

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Want to Learn More? Start Here:

Epitaphs – Writer’s Digest
Epitaph – Poetry Foundation
Epitaph – Literary Terms
Epitaph – Wikipedia

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