View Full Version : Great Epitaphs

tony draper
1st Oct 2001, 19:06
Lester Moore was a Wells Fargo Co. station agent for Naco, Arizona in the cowboy days of the 1880's. He's buried in the Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona:

Here lies Lester Moore
Four slugs from a .44
No Les, No More

And one for me

In a Thurmont, Maryland, cemetery:

Here lies an Atheist
All dressed up
And no place to go.

Memory of an accident in a Uniontown, Pennsylvania, cemetery:

Here lies the body Of Jonathan Blake
Stepped on the gas Instead of the brake.

Oops! - Harry Edsel Smith of Albany, New York:

Born 1903 - Died 1942
Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was on the way down. It was.

[ 01 October 2001: Message edited by: tony draper ]

gravity victim
1st Oct 2001, 19:14
...and in a churchyard somewhere in the Midlands is a gravestone inscribed:

Here Lies
Mary Watson
Spinster and Postmistress
of this Parish

"Returned Unopened"

tony draper
1st Oct 2001, 19:23
In Durness Churchyard, Sutherlandshire.

Here doth lye the bodie
Of John Flye, who did die
By a stroke from a sky-rocket
Which hit him on the eye-socket.

On an infant eight months old.

Since I have been so quickly done for,
I wonder what I was begun for.

Biggles Flies Undone
1st Oct 2001, 19:34
Remembered from chemistry lessons, many moons ago:

Poor old John
He's dead and gone
He'll trouble us no more
What he thought was H2O
Was H2SO4

1st Oct 2001, 20:08
Slip McVey
He might a be here today
But rum, whisky an a bad gun
Put him away.

Calico, CA.

1st Oct 2001, 20:30
A Romney Marsh farmer, a true family friend who was great company and lived life to the full, is buried at New Romney cemetery (UK). His headstone reads:

My candle burns at both ends,
It will not last the night,
But Oh, my foes,
And Ah, my friends,
It gives a lovely light.

{Edited in deference to Mac's Eng Lit Crit, below}

[ 03 October 2001: Message edited by: DrSyn ]

pax anglia
1st Oct 2001, 22:33
John Oaksey,C4 Racing Presenter,suggested that,as a former jockey,a suitable epitaph would be "Boxed In Again".

Mac the Knife
1st Oct 2001, 23:06
Appearing on a politician’s gravestone

I could not dig: I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?

"If any question why we died.
Tell them, because our fathers lied."
Epitaphs of the War (1914-1918) by Rudyard Kipling 1865-1936 (1924)

DrSyn, your striking poem of the 'lost generation' was written by Edna St. Vincent Millay and is called "First Fig" - it is from her 1920 volume *A Few Figs from Thistles*

Your memory has tricked you into transposing the 'foes' and 'friends' and in my book the last line is 'It gives a lovely light'.

While checking the text I found a satiric sort of follow-on titled 'I Burned My Candle At Both Ends' by Samuel Hoffenstein (whom I'd never heard of but who turns out to have been quite an interesting chap).

I burned my candle at both ends,
And now have neither foes nor friends;
For all the lovely light begotten,
I'm paying now in feeling rotten.

And gravity victim - just perfect!

tony draper
1st Oct 2001, 23:30
The supreme act of egotism write your own

Beneath this sod lies this old pruner.
Some say sad, but should have gone sooner
His last post is typed and sent.
Ain't no ISP where he's went.

henry crun
2nd Oct 2001, 02:08
On Norfolk Island from the days when it was a penal colony.
I cannot remember the first part but the last two lines are,

He lived in hope
And died in pain

Bio Warrior
2nd Oct 2001, 04:42
I always likes ?Byron's?

"here lies the man whose name is writ on water"

2nd Oct 2001, 05:08
Here lies the body of Ezra Pound
Lost at sea and was never found.

(Can't remember the source.)

2nd Oct 2001, 05:35
I told them I was ill

2nd Oct 2001, 12:31
Bio, "Here lies one whose name was writ in water" was Keats for himself.

Another one he wrote was for a couple he knew who, while walking in a field were killed by a bolt of lightning.

"Here lie two lovers who had the mishap,
Though very chaste people, to die of a clap."!

3rd Oct 2001, 07:27
Thanks for the literary perspective, Mac. Had I realised that a JB thread would reach such an erudite level, I would have popped round to the graveyard to check before posting! I had not heard of Edna St VM before, being something of a Phillistine in matters poetic, but I shall read the source you provided with interest.

It seems rather pedantic to edit a JB post for poetic accuracy but, as literacy is such a rare commodity on our forum, I have duly obliged. You were of course quite correct :)

PS: If the OH & AH are now in the wrong place - tough!. It's a long walk in the dark . . . I was just checking an inscription ossifer!

3rd Oct 2001, 20:57
Mel Blanc, the man of 1000 voices (Bugs Bunny and the rest)

"That's all Folk's"

Bally Heck
3rd Oct 2001, 21:16
On the headstone of a computer game addict.

"Player one: Game Over"

Bally Heck
3rd Oct 2001, 21:23
"Under a wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie
Glad to have lived and gladly I die
And I laid me down with a will

Here be the words you grave for me
Here he lies where he longed to be
Home is the sailor, home from the sea
And the hunter, home from the hill"

R.L. Stevenson

tony draper
3rd Oct 2001, 21:28
Great wordsmith was our Robert Louise, Mt H, Was going to post that myself, real class. ;)

4th Oct 2001, 12:38

You'd better start thinking of your own epitaph if you're going to continue stealing Mr D's thunder!

Bally Heck
4th Oct 2001, 13:26
Thought I might have been called a puff for posting that one. I also rather like:

"John Le Mesurier wishes it to be known that he conked out November 15th. He sadly misses family and friends"

Send Clowns
6th Oct 2001, 03:39
Very poignant, as he did ...

If I should die,
Think only this of me;
There is a corner of a foreign field
That is forever England.
There shall be in that rich Earth
A richer dust concealed,
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware...

Rupert Brooke

(if anyone knows the rest, or correct the punctuation you're welcome to add. I can't find my copy of his poems)

tony draper
6th Oct 2001, 03:53
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

There you go,Mr C if you want to find anything under the sun, go to Google, took me about 15 seconds to locate that, bloody magic is Google,;
That is good, but I prefer Owen.

[ 05 October 2001: Message edited by: tony draper ]

6th Oct 2001, 04:45
I agree, Tony D. Wilfred Owen:

The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

And there is one in the Presbyterian Church in Quebec City, in memoriam a young officer in the Canadian Machine Gun Corps, killed right at the end of WW1:

These gave, in the glorious morning
Of their days,
For Empire's sake, all but Empire's praise.

It was bad enough to kill the boy, without adding that mockery.

Bally Heck
6th Oct 2001, 05:32
Right you [email protected] It's two twenty in the morning. I'm pissed. And I'm going to do Shakespeare from memory.


"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day
Thou art more lovely and more tempearate
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May
And Summer's lease hath all to short a date.

Sometimes too warm the eye of heaven shines
And of't is his warm complexion dimmed
But every fair, from fair, sometime declines
By chance, or natures changing course untrimmed.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose posession of that fair thou o'est
Nor shall Death brag thou wanders't in his shade
While in these lines to time thou grow'st

So long as men shall breathe
And eyes shall see
So long lives this
And this gives life to thee"


While we are on the subject. (And I say this as a Scotch Jock person) (And I don't really know French)

Isn't the English language simply the best.

Send Clowns
6th Oct 2001, 17:00
Thanks, Mr Draper.

As an epitaph for the fallen in battle I like the final stanza to John McCrae's well-known In Flanders Fields:

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

6th Oct 2001, 17:27
I KNOW that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My county is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.


tony draper
6th Oct 2001, 17:46
Not a epitaph, but nevertheless.

Nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it; he died
As one that had been studied in his death
To throw away the dearest thing he ow’d,
As ’twere a careless trifle.

bloody hell, that Mr Zanetti can smell a Shakespeare quote from five thousand miles. ;)

lone eagle
6th Oct 2001, 18:09
This can be found on two tombs; one in Norwich cathedral and the other at Blickling Hall church:

Remember friend, as you pass by,
As you are now, so once was I,
As I am now, so shall you be,
Remember friend that you must die.

Cheerfull, eh?

Bally Heck
7th Oct 2001, 06:34
Cheerful, but so true Mr Eagle.

Some of the most profound and tearful things I have seen have been on headstones.

Why is it that the most beautiful words, crafted by the most talented wordsmiths, are about death.

And....why is it.....I am watching BBC 2 now.... why is it the that the word "genre".... why oh why....which is such a ..... how can I say this "Pre-fecking-pretentious word" So fecking popular.

Or I do I belong to the wrong fecking genre?

(******....drinking heavily two nights on the trot)

7th Oct 2001, 09:35
Well, perhaps Bally, because death opens the emotional floodgates, and out pours everything that may otherwise be held in check...I'm not sure...confronting mortality is probably not something any of us are particularly good at, and much less so these days.

Re genre:...maybe you should just drink warm milk at night from now on if this is what happens to you!


Mooney Driver
7th Oct 2001, 11:36
Apparently, Billy Connolly has left instructions that one of the following epitaphs be used on his tombstone:

Jesus Christ, is that the time already?


Tiny writing in the middle of a huge stone. The writing should be so small that people would have to get up really close to read: 'You're standing on my balls'.

7th Oct 2001, 20:03
Being topical for once:

How about one for Railtrack?

"They reached the end of the line" perhaps?

Bally Heck
7th Oct 2001, 20:11
On a gravestone in Barbados. Can't remember the guys name. But a nice set of priorities.

Flight Lieutenant ????? ???????
Navigator. Royal Air Force
Prime Minister of Barbados.

On the "genre" thing min. Sober now and still can't undertand how a word which five years ago was only ever uttered by cravat wearing puffs on the South Bank Show, could now be mentioned over fifty times, including about five times in one minute, On one paltry BBC2 learning zone programme.

The word pretentious springs to my charitable mind. Arty farty [email protected] to my less charitable mind. Oops sorry. Off topic.

Bally Heck
7th Oct 2001, 20:33
Back on topic then.

"This stone was raised to Sarah Ford,
Not Sarah's virtues to record--
For they're well known to all the town--
No Lord; it was raised to keep her down."