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Epigram

An epigram is a short poem with a clever twist at the end. Or, as Samuel Taylor Coleridge said,

What is an Epigram? A dwarfish whole;
Its body brevity, and wit its soul.

This form originated in Ancient Greek poetry, whose most famous example is Simonide's epigram for the Spartan dead after the Battle of Thermopylae:

Go and tell the Lacedaemonians, friend, here we rest
Having followed their commands to the end.

Epigrams are among the best examples of the power of poetry to compress insight and wit:

Little strokes
Fell great oaks.
Benjamin Franklin

Here lies my wife: here let her lie!
Now she's at rest — and so am I.
John Dryden

I am His Highness' dog at Kew;
Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?
Alexander Pope

Occasionally, simple and witty statements, though not poetical per se, may also be considered epigrams.


An epigraph[?] is an inscription on a building or a quotation used to introduce a written work.



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