Horseman, Pass By

One of the nicest things about teaching: returning to texts and authors I haven’t read for years. This week, some of my students have been studying Yeats.

Reading ‘Under Ben Bulben‘, I was newly struck by the way Yeats curates his own epitaph.

Yeats' gravestone
Yeats’s gravestone, engraved with the last three lines of ‘Under Ben Bulben’

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‘Passing By’ Stevie Smith’s Aphorisms

What should we do with an epitaph on a gravestone?

‘Read it’ is the obvious answer. But once we’ve read it, then what? Do we memorise it? Do we make it a principle by which to live our lives?

Or do we simply read it – and then walk on by?

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