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:

Traveler, carry this word to the men of Lacedaemon: we who lie here did what they told us to do.

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. The term is sometimes for particularly pointed or much-quoted quotations taken from longer works.
An epigraph is an inscription on a building or a quotation used to introduce a written work.




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