The epigram is the most condensed and concentrated form of poetry. Webster defines it as "A short poem treating concisely, pointedly, often satirically, a single thought or event, usually ending with a witticism." The poet of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," Samuel Taylor Coleridge, defined it even more concisely:
Preston, was a master of the epigram. Here are two of his favorites:
The alienist is not a joke;
He finds you cracked and leaves you broke.
The Devil, having nothing else to do,
Went off to tempt My Lady Poltagrue.
My Lady, tempted by a private whim,
To his extreme annoyance, tempted him.
When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
His sins were scarlet, but his books were read."
Other examples show the characteristics of the epigram: speed, point, and perfection of form. Like the flight of the arrow to which it has been compared, the epigram pierces almost as soon as it leaves the pen. A breath, a short flight, and the bolt strikes home.
Verse Forms |
Ode | Elegy | Epic | Blank Verse | Free Verse