An Epitaph Summary and Explanation Line-by-Line 

An Epitaph: An Epitaph is a brilliant poem by Walter de la Mare, an award-winning British poet and novelist, renowned for his poems for children and short psychological horror stories. It is a poem which has a deep hidden meaning that we discuss in this article.

An Epitaph

An Epitaph is a brilliant poem in the syllabus of Class 12 Bihar Board. Thus, from the perspective of the Class 12th Board Exams, learning and having a deep understanding of this poem to be better prepared for the board exam. Thus, in this article, we have provided a summary and explanation of An Epitaph to help you thoroughly understand the poem so that you are able to tackle any question which appears in the board exam.

An Epitaph Poem

Here lies a most beautiful lady:

Light of step and heart was she;

I think she was the most beautiful lady

That ever was in the West Country.

But beauty vanishes; beauty passes;

However rare—rare it be;

And when I crumble, who will remember

This lady of the West Country?

An Epitaph Explanation

The line-by-line explanation of An Epitaph is as follows

Line No.LineExplanation
Line 1Here lies a most beautiful lady:The first line, also called the opening line, gives us a general idea of what the poem is going to be about. It describes the lady who is lying in her grave and the poet is standing at it or just next to it. Here, the word “lies” denotes that the lady is dead and lies in her grave. Note that the poet says that she is “a most beautiful”, meaning that he elevates her to other “most beautiful” ladies he knows.
Line 2Light of step and heart was she;In this line, the poet says that the lady was light of step and heart. This means that she was a carefree lady who would roam around and wasn’t much serious. The phrase “light of heart” means that she was seldom concerned about the things around her.
Line 3I think she was the most beautiful ladyIn this line, the poet says that the lady whom he is describing is, according to him, “the most beautiful lady. Note that this expression is different from the first line where he describes her as “A” most beautiful lady. 
Line 4That ever was in the West Country.This line is a continuation of the previous line that describes her as “The most beautiful” lady. Here, he addresses her as “the most beautiful lady” because now he compares her with other women in the West Country, whereas in the first line, he compared her to other beautiful ladies throughout the world.
Line 5But beauty vanishes; beauty passes;From this line, the poet becomes more realistic and gloomy. He describes his experience by saying that “beauty vanishes” and “beauty passes”. This means that nothing is permanent in this world. Even one of the most beautiful ladies in the world, according to the poet, who was popular and charming, had to go someday. This denotes the mortal nature of humans.
Line 6However rare—rare it be;This line is a continuation of the previous line. The poet wants to convey a message that even the most beautiful people or things have to vanish one day. This not only relates to beautiful ladies but beauty in general. The poet, thus, reminds us that everything, be it beautiful or ugly, will come to an end someday.
Line 7And when I crumble, who will rememberThe poet continues to discuss the mortality of humans in this line. The line means that with the most beautiful lady gone, only he is left to talk about her and her beauty. Thus, the poet conveys a message that no one will remember her and her beauty. Thus, the beautiful memories of a beautiful lady are also mortal
Line 8This lady of the West Country?This line is a continuation of the above line. The poet ends his poem by asking a question that delivers a message that there will be no one who will remember this beautiful lady who lies in the grave.

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An Epitaph Summary

The summary of the poem ’An Epitaph’ is as follows

An Epitaph, written by Walter de la Mare, is a poem that has a gloomy philosophical message. The poem revolves around a lady, whom the poet describes, as the most beautiful woman in the west country and is dead now. The lady, according to the poet, was a carefree woman who was light at heart. 

The poet, through the beauty of the lady, conveys a message that nothing in this world is permanent and everything has its end. A lady who was most beautiful now lies dead and there is nobody except the poet to talk about her. The poet further mourns that after his death, there would be no one to talk about her beauty.

An Epitaph Summary

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