is a short poem
with a clever twist at the end. Or, as Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- 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.
is an inscription on a building or a quotation used to introduce a written work.