"Graveyard" David Caspar FriedrichEpitaphs of Great Poets and Writers The Society May 3, 2021 Culture, Humor, Poetry 46 Comments Compiled by Roy E. Peterson Readers are encouraged to add other great poets’ and writers’ epitaphs in the comments section below, or write a poem for their own epitaphs. . Prologue Both authors well and lesser known Write their own epitaphs for stone. What fascinations fill my mind To think what they left us to find. . . Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet and travel writer who suffered all his life from a condition that some thought was tuberculosis, but likely was a disease more recently identified as bronchiectasis, or sarcoidosis. His condition was a constant affliction that is reflected in his “Requiem,” in the words, “and gladly die.” Sickly as a child, hindered as an adult, he expired at the age of 44. Even in his condition, he managed to travel from Edinburgh to California and on to Samoa by ship. He honeymooned in the Napa Valley of California and wrote glowingly about Samoa. Stevenson was most noted for Treasure Island, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Kidnapped, The Master of Ballantrae, The Black Arrow, and a Child’s Garden of Verses. . Stevenson’s Requiem Under the wide and starry sky Dig the grave and let me lie: Glad did I live and gladly die, __—And I laid me down with a will. This be the verse you ’grave for me. Here he lies where he long’d to be; Home is the sailor, home from the sea, __—And the hunter home from the hill. . . William Shakespeare (Bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) Good friend for Jesus sake forbear, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones. . . Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) Conrad, who served in the British navy before he became a novelist took his epitaph from Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene: Sleep after toile, port after stormie seas, Ease after warre, death after life, does greatly please. . . John Donne (1572-1631) Reader, I am to let thee know, Donne’s body only lies below; For could the grave his soul comprise, Earth would be richer than the skies. . . Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) Heroes and Kings your distance keep; In peace let one poor poet sleep, Who never flattered folks like you; Let Horace blush and Virgil too. . . Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) When I am dead, I hope it may be said: “His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.” . . Clive Blake, Cornish Poet Epitaph for Charlotte Dymond This flower cut, Whilst in full bloom, Now rests in peace, Within this tomb. . . Emily Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) Step lightly on this narrow spot! The broadest land that grows Is not so ample as the breast These emerald seams enclose. Step lofty; for this name is told As far as cannon dwell, Or flag subsist, or fame export Her deathless syllable. . . Final Thought Did we succeed or simply fail? An epitaph presents a tale. Forgotten poet? Or published giant? Just write your own. Don’t be defiant. . . Postscript: The Compiler’s Epitaph Possibilities . Epitaph 1 I have fought a good fight; I have finished my race. I have kept to my faith By His power and grace (2 Timothy 4:7) . Epitaph 2 Here lies Roy between two stones. His soul is gone; he left these bones. . Epitaph 3 Here lies Roy becoming dust. His soul in heaven in God’s trust. . Epitaph 4 Returned to sender. . . Roy E. Peterson is a writer and former U.S. military army intelligence officer who currently resides in Texas. NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to email@example.com. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 46 Responses Sally Cook May 3, 2021 A delightful and sensitive submission. My favorites are Dickinson, and Belloc. Everyone should have one ready, just in case. Reply Sally Cook May 3, 2021 And Stevenson, of course, who has been a favorite of mine since I was four. Reply Gail May 3, 2021 This is why I wander every graveyard I find. Reply Cynthia Erlandson May 3, 2021 I like to do that, too! Reply Joseph S. Salemi May 3, 2021 Cast a cold eye on life, on death — Horseman, pass by! –William Butler Yeats Reply Jared Carter May 3, 2021 Epitaph Six feet down, beneath this stone, Rest six feet of powdered bone. On Judgment Day, add Holy Water, Stir well, and then you’ll have J. Carter. Reply Sally Cook May 3, 2021 Love it! Reply Roy E. Peterson May 4, 2021 Excellent Epitaph! I enjoyed it! Reply Beverly S Stock May 3, 2021 In my own research of epitaphs I smiled at the following: A Man Cremated Four Wives Stranger arouse and shed a tear, For Mary Jane lies buried here. Mingled in a most surprising manner With Susan, Marie and portions of Hannah. (This man had cremated four wives, and the ashes, kept in four urns, being overturned and fallen together, were buried and had this droll inscription.) Reply Joseph S. Salemi May 3, 2021 This is the grave of Elizabeth Lee — She lived to the age of 103. For fifteen years she kept her virginity (A pretty good record for this vicinity). –old New England epitaph Reply Roy E. Peterson May 4, 2021 Wow! I love it! Reply Joe Tessitore May 3, 2021 Great fun these, with quite a few faves, not the least of which is Mr.Peterson’s “Returned to sender”. Reply LTC Roy E. Peterson May 4, 2021 I greatly appreciate your kind comment, Joe! Reply Joe Tessitore May 3, 2021 I’m going home to stay. Meet me there. From Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Reply Joe Tessitore May 3, 2021 From the Poet’s’ Corner: Beneath this stone Lies not Joe S., Of dulcet tone, But I digress. Can there be worse Skullduggery? Straight from the hearse Lies old Joe T. Reply LTC Roy E. Peterson May 4, 2021 Funny and nicely rhymed! Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 3, 2021 Thank you so very much for these, Roy – I love them. I only hope my sad tombstone tale doesn’t lower the tone. On the headstone of an anonymous Kentish victim of life’s cruel breeze – they were fart oo polite for their own good. Wherever you may be Let your wind blow free. I didn’t – Look what happened to me! 😉 Reply Roy E. Peterson May 4, 2021 Oh, my goodness! Must have lived and died in West Texas! Reply Mike Bryant May 3, 2021 Here lies Mike You’re reading my greeting, The sun is still shining. You stand for our meeting, While I am reclining. My favorite is still George Carlin’s punch line on his headstone: He was here a minute ago… Reply Roy E. Peterson May 4, 2021 Both those are cute and funny, plus they make one scratch their head! Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 3, 2021 On the headstone of a nonagenarian Cornish aunt who happened to be a lifelong hypochondriac. I fear her words were aimed at her long-suffering daughter. Sadly her daughter passed five months before her eternally ailing mother. You heartless lunatic I told you I was sick! Reply Roy E. Peterson May 4, 2021 That one is my biggest laugh! Reply Mike Bryant May 3, 2021 An epitaph from Boot Hill… I think Johnny Cash immortalized this one Here lies the body of Lester Moore, Two slugs from a forty-four, No Les, no more. Reply Roy E. Peterson May 4, 2021 That is the one I remember from visiting Boot Hill in Tombstone on more than one occasion! Reply Yael May 3, 2021 Delightful epitaphs all of them, thank you. I hope I’ll never need one of those, as I’m planning on living forever. So far this has been working out really well for me. Reply Joseph S. Salemi May 3, 2021 Here lies the body of Annabel Shore — She worked for years as a ten-buck whore. We doubt if she minds her current condition; Horizontal was her favored position. –old New England epitaph Reply Roy E. Peterson May 4, 2021 Oh, my goodness! Annabel’s lewdness, Put her to rest The way they thought best! Reply Mike Bryant May 3, 2021 https://classicalpoets.org/2019/08/16/bucket-kicking-musings-and-other-poetry-by-susan-jarvis-bryant/ The second poem here has a great epitaph… at the end. Reply Joe Tessitore May 4, 2021 Indeed! Reply Jared Carter May 3, 2021 John Donne’s birth and death dates are given above as 1872-1861. Did he live backward or am I missing something? Even backward, he seems to have been awfully precocious for someone who only lived eight years. Reply Roy E. Peterson May 4, 2021 They are way off for some unknown reason, but they must have come from me. John Donne was born in 1572 and died in 1631. Reply The Society May 4, 2021 Fixed. Thank you, Mr. Carter! Reply Roy E. Peterson May 4, 2021 Corrected. Thank you for noticing that! Reply Joe Tessitore May 4, 2021 She was a casualty of The pandemic’s spread. Here lies the remains Of one virtually dead … Or do they? Reply Roy E. Peterson May 4, 2021 Very fitting for the times! Reply C.B. Anderson May 4, 2021 A great idea, this project. Here’s mine: Right here, beneath this stone, lies Kip Who, having failed to check the clock, Knew not his metaphoric ship Had sailed and left him at the dock. Reply Roy E. Peterson May 4, 2021 Funny! I love your wording of “his metaphoric ship had sailed and left him at the dock.” Reply Joseph S. Salemi May 4, 2021 Here lies poor old Norman Mailer — Novelist and loudmouth railer, Politician, pugilist, Aficionado of the tryst. –J.S. Reply Roy E. Peterson May 5, 2021 From the little I know of Norman, this is very fitting and funny! Reply Will B. Dunn May 4, 2021 These were recently discovered at the going-out-of-business sale for a quaint, pandemic-ruined small business called Classical Stones Befitting Bones (that tried in vain to reinvent itself as You Park’em, We Mark’em). These were rough, preliminary sketches in a “pending ascending” file that strangely all seemed to be SCP related… By wisdom gleaned from things observed, as soldier-poet well he served. Still music now as he was then by fingered strings, and keys…and pen. The Gospel preached by being here as man of cloth and sonneteer. Here lie not two but many eyes that saw the world through B. D. Wise. He’s here and yet more where he proved, in hearts he touched, that souls were moved. In works well written and retold, her words became transmuted gold. As poet’s spouse and poet too, a plumber blessed with pipe dreams true. In homespun verse he veiled the truth of hard row hoed to age from youth. In temper lost the words were found to write his way to higher ground. A Brit by birth, a Yank by choice, a poet frank of charming voice. For liberty a vanguard force, for formalists a better choice. Reply Gail May 4, 2021 That’s pretty sweet. Reply Roy E. Peterson May 5, 2021 Excellent set of Epitaphs and perfect for poets to ponder! Reply Will May 5, 2021 A few more have now been discovered: By day a systems engineer, by night encoded art to hear. Sound both as theory and as heard his soul composed by note and word. First eye and hand to art restored, then mind and pen to heart implored. To life down under near the wild his poet’s soul was reconciled. A stubborn stone in passing stream blind both to evil and to dream. David Watt May 5, 2021 This posting and comments thread is a load of fun. Here goes my ten cents worth. You may wonder who lies here. I’ll give it to you straight. He was a friend to man and beast- But most of all, a mate. Reply Roy E. Peterson May 5, 2021 Very nice, David! Reply Joseph S. Salemi May 6, 2021 Here rests the dust of Whitman (Walt). Today he’d scream “It’s not my fault!” Free-verse god, he’d damn the shit That workshop weirdos now emit. 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