An epitaph (literally: "on the grave" in ancient Greek) is text honoring the dead, most commonly inscribed on a tombstone or plaque. Traditionally an epitaph is in verse, but there are exceptions.
Some poets have been known to compose their own epitaphs prior to their death.
O xein', angellein Lakedaimoniois hoti täde/
keimetha tois keinon rhämasi peithomenoi!
Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by
that here, obedient to their laws we lie --Simonides's epigram at Thermopylae
When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today
The Kohima Epitaph which is on the World War II War Memorial for the Allied fallen at the battle of Kohima. Attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds (1875 -1958), an English classicist, suggested for the memorial by Major John Etty-Leal, the GSO II of the 2nd Division, another classical scholar.
Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
But cursed be he that moves my bones. -- (From the grave of William Shakespeare).
Nature, and nature's laws,
Lay hid in night,
God said, let Newton be!
And all was light. -- from the grave of Newton, a poem from Alexander Pope
Stranger by the roadside, do not smile
When you see this grave, though it is only a dog's,
My master wept when I died, and his own hand
Laid me in earth and wrote these lines on my tomb. -- (unknown origin)
Here lies one of the most intelligent animals who ever appeared on the face of the earth. -- (Benito Mussolini)
That's all folks! -- (Mel Blanc)
J. R. R. Tolkien is buried next to his wife, and on their tombstone the names "Beren" and "Lúthien" are engraved, a fact that sheds light on the love story of Beren and Lúthien which is recorded in several versions in his works.