Gravestone epitaphs: Poets and writers

photo of cemetery

Gravestone epitaphs: Poets and writers

I have often found the epitaphs on gravestones and tombs that go beyond the simple details of name, life span, and relationships more interesting, and sometimes poignant, when they cover details of their life and fame. Following are some of those for poets and writers.

Joseph Conrad (Canterbury, England)
Sleep after toyle, port after stormie seas,
Ease after warre, death after life, does greatly please.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Crowborough, Sussex, England, then Minstead Churchyard, Hampshire)
Steel True, Blade Straight

Emily Dickinson (Amherst, Massachusetts)
Called Back

Ralph Waldo Emerson (Concord, Massachusetts)
The passive master lent his hand,
To the vast Soul which o’er him planned.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (Rockville, Maryland)
So we beat on, boats against the current,
borne back ceaselessly
into the past
– – – Great Gatsby

Benjamin Franklin (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
The Body of
B. Franklin, Printer
Like the Cover of an old Book
Its Contents turn out
And Stript of its Lettering & Guilding
Lies here. Food for Worms
For, it will as he believed
appear once more
In a new and more elegant Edition
corrected and improved
By the Author

Robert Lee Frost (Bennington, Vermont)
I had A Lover’s Quarrel With The World

Sylvia Plath Hughes (Heponstall, Yorkshire, UK)
Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted.

Henry James (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
of Two Countries
Interpreter of his
Generation on both
Sides of the Sea.
New York April 15, 1843
London February 28, 1916

John Keats (Rome, Italy)
This Grave
contains all that was Mortal
of a
Young English Poet
on his Death Bed
in the Bitterness of his Heart
at the Malicious Power of his Enemies
these words to be engraved on his Tomb Stone
“Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water.”

C. S. Lewis (Oxfordshire, England)
Man must endure his going hence.

Jack London (Glen Ellen, California)
The Stone the Builders Rejected

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Massachusetts)
Gone are the living, but the dead remain,
And not neglected; for a hand unseen,
Scattering its bounty like a summer rain,
Still keeps their graves and their remembrance green.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (Providence, Rhode Island)
I am Providence

Karl Marx (London, England)
Workers of all lands unite.
The philosophers have only
interpreted the world in various ways;
the point is to change it.

written by Alexander Pope on
Sir Isaac Newton (London, England)
Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night:
God said, “Let Newton be!” and all was light.

Edgar Allan Poe (Baltimore, Maryland)
Quoth the Raven,

William Shakespeare (Stratford-on-Avon, England)
Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare,
To digg the dust encloased heare!
Blest be the man that spares thes stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (Rome, Italy)
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange

Oscar Wilde (Paris, France)
Alien tears will fill for him
Pity’s long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.

Virginia Woolf (Rodmell, Sussex, England)
Against you I will fling myself,
unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!

William Butler Yeats (County Sligo, Ireland)
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death
Horseman, pass by!