The Garden of Hesperides

Philosophy, Wisdom, Wit, and Advice -- all in one line


Epigram derives from the Greek epigramma -- "in-scribed". It is a short meaningful statement or saying that is often insightful and can provoke deep thought. According to the Oxford dictionary, an epigram is "a short poem ending in a witty turn of thought; pointed saying or mode of expression." But to me a definition cannot capture the spirit of something, and this is especially true of epigrams. They have to be experienced to get an appreciation for them. I also think that it takes a certain kind of person to recognize and appreciate the wit, wisdom, and value of an epigram.

One such person is Richard Cruickshanks, to whom this Epigram Page is dedicated. For Cruickshanks, epigrams are irresistible because they are problem-solving in nature. "It is a train of thought that leads to a result." He feels that epigrams are tools "to change the way people look at things," and are aimed more at the heart than the head. I feel this is true in that an epigram opens the door to an issue or subject without limiting or defining it, and invites the reader to take it further. To Cruickshanks, "Epigrams are the result of the philosophy of distilling the human condition," and calls the epigram a "poetic telegram." Here is a short sampling of his epigrams.

  • "Although beauty may be skin deep, many have drowned there."

  • "We cannot change the inevitable, but inevitably there will be change."

  • "Love is in the palm of the hand; you just have to unclench the fist."

  • "If you spend all your time second-guessing tomorrow ... you will not have time for today."

  • "Up till now I have paid little attention to a lot of things, but now I pay a lot of attention to little things."

  • "There is no short cut to experience."

  • "Birthdays are just speed-bumps on the road of life telling us to slow down."

If you're looking for more of his writings, he has written book of love poems, My Heart Has But One Wish, which includes many epigrams on the subject of love. Cruickshanks considers Oscar Wilde to have written the quintessential one-liners. I personally feel that epigrams culled from Emerson's and Thoreau's writings can't be surpassed, but that may be just a matter of taste.

Any epigrams to add to this page would be welcome. Please send them here. Enjoy!

A Collection of Epigrams
Epigrams from Emerson
Epigrams from Thoreau
Check out the one-liners from the Humor section of the garden.

To conclude, here are a few jewels contributed by John Drybred:

  • "What you need most in the free world is money."

  • "The global economy supplies basic tools. Many workers even get the ax."

  • "It's hardest to keep up with the Joneses during rush hour."

  • "Who tells you it's a matter of opinion usually thinks there's something the matter with yours."

  • "Pills help us live longer so we can need more of them."

  • "Believe in eternity to the very end."

  • "One pet peeve is how much veterinarians charge."

  • "Just because the boss's door is always open doesn't mean his mind is."

  • "Suppose you're in the know, but don't realize it?"

To see a few more of John's one-liners, pay a visit to his blog

This website is maintained by Dirk Kelder. For any comments or suggestions, send him an email.

Hesperides | Epigrams | Collection | Emerson | Thoreau
Copyright © 2012, Dirk Kelder

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