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EPITAPHS
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[ Also see Apothegms Death Epigrams Graves Last Words Monuments Mottoes Mourning Obituaries Satire Tombs ]

Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
  God said, "Let Newton be!" and all was light.
      - Alexander Pope,
        Epitaph Intended for Sir Isaac Newton

To this sad shrine, whoe'er thou art! draw near!
  Here lies the friend most lov'd, the son most dear;
    Who ne'er knew joy but friendship might divide,
      Or gave his father grief but when he died.
      - Alexander Pope, Epitaph on Harcourt

Calmly he looked on either Life, and here
  Saw nothing to regret, or there to fear:
    From Nature's temp'rate feast rose satisfy'd,
      Thank'd Heaven that he had lived, and that he died.
      - Alexander Pope, Epitaph X

Statesman, yet friend to truth! of soul sincere,
  In action faithful, and in honour clear;
    Who broke no promise, served no private end,
      Who gained no title, and who lost no friend,
        Ennobled by himself, by all approved,
          And praised, unenvied, by the Muse he loved.
      - Alexander Pope, Moral Essays--To Hamilton
         (epistle V, l. 67)

Nobles and heralds, by your leave,
  Here lies what once was Matthew Prior,
    The son of Adam and of Eve:
      Can Bourbon or Nassau claim higher?
      - Matthew Prior

Heralds and statesman, by your leave,
  Here lies what once was Matthew Prior;
    The son of Adam and of Eve;
      Can Bourbon or Nassau go higher?
      - Matthew Prior, Epitaph--Extempore

I came at morn--'twas spring, I smiled,
  The fields with green were clad;
    I walked abroad at noon,--and lo!
      'Twas summer,--I was glad;
        I sate me down; 'twas autumn eve,
          And I with sadness wept;
            I laid me down at night, and then
              'Twas winter,--and I slept.
      - Mary Pyper, Epitaph--A Life

She was--but room forbids to tell thee what--
  Sum all perfection up, and she was--that.
      - Francis Quarles, epitaph on Lady Luchyn

The world's a book, writ by th' eternal Art
  Of the great Maker; printed in man's heart;
    'Tis falsely printed though divinely penn'd,
      And all the Errata will appear at th' end.
      - Francis Quarles, Divine Fancies

The World's a Printing-House, our words, our thoughts,
  Our deeds, are characters of several sizes.
    Each soul is a Compos'tor, of whose faults
      The Levites are Correctors; Heaven Revises.
        Death is the common Press, from whence being driven,
          We're gather'd, Sheet by Sheet, and bound for Heaven.
      - Francis Quarles, Divine Fancies

The earthe goeth on the earthe
  Glisteringe like gold;
    The earthe goeth to the earthe
      Sooner that it wold;
        The earthe builds on the earthe
          Castles and Towers;
            The earthe says to the earthe
              All shall be ours.
      - T.F. Ravenshaw, Antiente Epitaphes
         (p. 158)

Warm summer sun, shine friendly here;
  Warm western wind, blow kindly here;
    Green sod above, rest light, rest light--
      Good-night, Annette! Sweetheart, good-night.
      - Robert Richardson, Willow and Wattle
         (p. 35), in his collection

Traveller, let your step be light,
  So that sleep these eyes may close,
    For poor Scarron, till to-night,
      Ne'er was able e'en to doze.
      - Paul Scarron, Epitaph written by himself

Earth walks on Earth,
  Glittering in gold;
    Earth goes to Earth.
      Sooner than it wold;
        Earth builds on Earth,
          Palaces and towers;
            Earth says to Earth,
              Soon, all shall be ours.
      - Sir Walter Scott, Unpublished Epigram,
        in "Notes and Queries", p. 498

May the earth rest lightly on thee.
  [Lat., Sit tua terra levis.]
      - Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca), Epigram
         (II, Ad Corsican)

After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.
      - William Shakespeare,
        Hamlet Prince of Denmark
         (Hamlet at II, ii)

Your daughter here the princess (left for dead),
  Let her awhile be secretly kept in,
    And publish it that she is dead indeed;
      Maintain a mourning ostentation,
        And on your family's old monument
          Hang mournful epitaphs, and do all rites
            That appertain unto a burial.
      - William Shakespeare,
        Much Ado About Nothing
         (Friar Francis at IV, i)

I cannot bid you bid my daughter live--
  That were impossible; but I pray you both,
    Possess the people in Messina here
      How innocent she died; and if your love
        Can labor aught in sad invention,
          Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb,
            And sing it to her bones--sing it to-night.
      - William Shakespeare,
        Much Ado About Nothing (Leonato at V, i)

Either our history shall with full mouth
  Speak freely of our acts, or else our grave,
    Like Turkish mute, shall have a tongueless mouth,
      Not worshipped with a waxen epitaph.
      - William Shakespeare,
        The Life of King Henry the Fifth
         (King Henry at I, ii)

You cannot better be employed, Bassanio,
  Than to live still, and write mine epitaph.
      - William Shakespeare,
        The Merchant of Venice
         (Antonio at IV, i)   BUY VARYING HARE USED BOOK  

Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs,
  Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes
    Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.
      Let's choose executors and talk of wills.
        And yet not so--for what can we bequeath,
          Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
            Our lands, our lives, and all are Bolingbroke's,
              And nothing can we call our own but death
                And that small model of the barren earth
                  Which serves as past and cover to our bones.
      - William Shakespeare,
        The Tragedy of King Richard the Second
         (King Richard at III, ii)

These are two friends whose lives were undivided:
  So let their memory be, now they have glided
    Under the grave; let not their bones be parted,
      For their two hearts in life were single-hearted.
      - Percy Bysshe Shelley, Epitaph

He will be weighed again
  At the Great Day,
    His rigging refitted,
      And his timbers repaired,
        And with one broadside
          Make his adversary
            Strike in his turn.
      - Tobias George Smollett, Peregrine Pickle
         (vol. III, ch. VII),
        Epitaph on Commodore Trunnion

Lie light upon him, earth! tho' he
  Laid many a heavy load on thee.
      - as quoted in Snuffling,
        Epitaphia; Architects

Let no man write my epitaph; let my grave
  Be uninscribed, and let my memory rest
    Till other times are come, and other men,
      Who then may do me justice.
      - Robert Southey,
        written after reading the speech of Robert Emmet


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