I love epigrams.  

The English critic and poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, said,

“What is an epigram? A dwarfish whole, its body brevity, and wit its soul.”

A clever epigram about epigrams.

Some of my favorites:

“I can resist everything except temptation”-Oscar Wilde

And another from Wilde:

“The way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.”

Oscar clearly had intimate knowledge of the word temptation.  But I guess we all know that now.

Mark Twain may well be considered the king of epigrams.  He had a distinct way of combining wit and pith, as it were.

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them”

“It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt”

“If you pick up a dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you.  This is the principle difference between a dog and a man.”

All tenets of a life well-lived, it seems Twain knew the secret to life….

“Don’t take life too seriously.  You’ll never get out of it alive anyway.”

And, at last, a new favorite of mine:


“Does God’s light guide us or blind us?”

Less wit than unending, unanswerable question…or is it?

~ by rfgainey on September 1, 2009.

3 Responses to “Epigrams”

  1. My favorite epigrams come from old monks and gnostics. But I think Emile Cioran is wonderful, too. He is a sort of monk, only modern and scathing.

    Two from Cioran:

    “We are truly ourselves only when we coincide with nothing, not even ourselves.”

    “Critcism is a misperception; we must read not to understand others, but to understand ourselves.”


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