And were an epitaph to be my story I’d have a short one ready for my own. I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.
—Robert Frost (1874–1963) American Poet
Do ye not laugh, O, listening friends, when men praise those dead whose virtues they discovered not when living?—It takes much marble to build the sepulchre.—How little of lath and plaster would have repaired the garret!
—Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton (1803–73) British Novelist, Poet, Politician
Nor has his death the world deceiv’d than his wondrous life surprise d; if he like a madman liv’d least he like a wise one dy’d.
—Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616) Spanish Novelist
Green leaves on a dead tree is our epitaph—green leaves, dear reader, on a dead tree.
—Cyril Connolly (1903–74) British Literary Critic, Writer
Some persons make their own epitaphs, and bespeak the reader’s good will. It were, indeed, to be wished, that every man would early learn in this manner to make his own, and that he would draw it up in terms as flattering as possible, and that he would make it the employment of his whole life to deserve it.
—Oliver Goldsmith (1730–74) Irish Novelist, Playwright, Poet
If men could see the epitaphs their friends write they would believe they had gotten into the wrong grave.
An epitaph is a belated advertisement for a line of goods that has been discontinued.
—Irvin S. Cobb (1876–1944) American Humorist, Short Story Writer, Columnist
Posterity will never survey a nobler grave than this: here lie the bones of Castlereagh: stop, traveler, and piss.
—Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron) (1788–1824) English Romantic Poet
They are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time, to show virtue her own image; scorn, her own features; and the very age and body of the time, his form and pressure.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) British Playwright
Oh, write of me, not “Died in bitter pains,” but “Emigrated to another star!”
—Helen Hunt Jackson (1830–85) American Novelist, Civil Rights Activist
The epitaphs on tombstones of a great many people should read: Died at thirty, and buried at sixty.
—Nicholas Murray Butler (1862–1947) American Philosopher, Diplomat, Educator
In lapidary inscriptions a man is not upon oath.
—Samuel Johnson (1709–84) British Essayist