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Epigram for the Masses?

Irresistible as the subject is, we cannot help ourselves. It’s fun to tweak a tweet. Today’s contribution to the subject? It’s the suggestion that the Tweet was invented a long time ago, but back then it was called the Epigram. An excellent definition of it comes to us from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who, with prophetic intuition, foresaw that he’d be quoted on Dwarf Planet Press and snuck in a hint of that. He said: “What is an Epigram? A dwarfish whole; its body brevity, and wit its soul.” Benjamin Franklin, no doubt also thinking about our future venture, opined as follows: “Little strokes fell great oaks.” The first’s a tweet of 73, the second of 31 characters. Hilaire Belloc would have been a stellar figure on Twitter too—and obviously understood the motivation of publishers (as opposed to those of the poet) perfectly. From him we have: “I’m tired of Love: I’m still more tired of Rhyme. But Money gives me pleasure all the time.”

So wherein lies the difference between the tweet and the epigram? Well, to shorten the definition (short is good) we could remove the epigram’s soul and simply keep its body. And effort must also be reduced. We demonstrate that here today. This post was easy. We didn’t labor turning the pages of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations to find the fitting epigram. Nay. We went to Wiki’s Epigram page and just cut and pasted stuff—so that we can quickly move on. With these innovations we can therefore pronounce that these days—

Everyone’s an epigrammarian. Tweet, tweet.


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