What are epitaphs and verses?

Epitaphs and verses are special inscriptions engraved onto a headstone that have a particular meaning or significance for the deceased person. Sometimes they can be quotes from spiritual books or famous sayings from poets and authors. Many times the family members will inscribe clever quotes their loved one said while still alive as a final, personal touch to the world.

Most frequently verses are associated with biblical texts, but verses can relate to any form of poetry. In fact, verses don’t necessarily have to rhyme, but it’s quite common for rhyming verses to be found on gravestones, especially on older gravestones. Many of the gravestones in the ‘Old West’ have quite humorous verses that describe the dead, even some describing how the person died. For example, “Here lies Ted Squaw, he was quick with a gun, but slow to the draw.”

Epitaphs are paragraphs or words of wisdom engraved on a tombstone or grave marker. Epitaphs are associated with gravestones or grave markers and don’t have to be a form of poetry like verses. Epitaphs can be essentially anything you want (as long as the cemetery approves it) and can evoke a wide range of emotions including humor (a popular humorous epitaph is, “I told you I was sick,”). Many celebrities who have popular catchphrases may have them engraved onto their headstones like Mel Blanc (the popular voice-over artist of cartoon characters like Porky Pig and Bugs Bunny) who engraved, “That’s all folks” onto his grave marker.

Epitaphs and verses don’t always have a humorous tone, many may be simple or others may be thought provoking. It’s not uncommon for many gravestones to have words that cause a visitor to contemplate their own death such as this verse, “Remember me as you pass by, As you are now, so once was I, As I am now, so you will be, Prepare for death and follow me.”

If you’re choosing to engrave an epitaph or verse onto your own or a loved one’s headstone, keep in mind how you would like to be remembered. Personality traits and hobbies are an excellent way to determine what kind of inscription should be placed on the tombstone. If you’re unsure, a quick call to a monument company or a search on the internet could give you a few ideas.