Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Poetry Challenge #13: Epigram

All right, sports fans, I think it's time for a new challenge. But before we get started, as always, please check out the lovely rondeaux (rondeaus?) from the last challenge here.

I was thinking to do a longer sort of poem this week, but as it's already getting pretty late, I'd better stick to something short. Hence, the epigram.

An epigram is a short, pithy saying, usually in verse, and often with a satirical twist at the end. Famous epigram artists include John Donne, Ben Jonson, and Lord Byron. 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge offered this meta-epigram, if you will, defining the genre within its boundaries: 
What is an epigram? A dwarfish whole,
Its body brevity, and wit its soul.

More recent masters of the epigram are Yeats, Pound, and Ogden Nash, whose "Ice Breaking" is reproduced here:
Is dandy,
But liquor
Is quicker

Whew. So now I have to be witty, huh? Well, I'll do my best.

Teach your kids to think
or to foolish depths they'll sink.

Irrational hope
is stronger than rope.

Love your kids and hug them tight
For they get older overnight.

You can read more about epigrams and read more examples here. I'll bet you can do better than me what you come up with!


Anonymous said...

Okay; first attempt:

Ain't servility.


Minerva said...

Cicely--nice one! Keep 'em coming. 1,000 points for the first pithy comment. :)

Anonymous said...

Second attempt:

You can follow the herd and avoid a tiff,
But you don't need to follow it over the cliff!


(I don't like this one as well, but I'm trying for one a day, and so there may inevitably be a trade-off of quality for quantity. We'll see....)

Alicia said...

How about this...

If you don't sing like a lark,
Be prepared for a bark.

Anonymous said...

It looks to me as if epigrams tend easily to either high-schoolesque cheers:
Two, four, six, eight
Don't be stodgy; innovate!

or slogans:
Be dramatic;
Get epigrammatic!


Anonymous said...

Number 5:

The present's troubles will not last;
Reach toward the future, learn from the past.


Anonymous said...

Today's effort:

Spewing hate and dissension is easy to do,
But just think how you'd feel if the target was you.

And a pre-emptive strike on tomorrow:

The virtues of "early to rise" can be bested
By sleeping 'til later, and rising well-rested.