Poetic Forms Poetic Forms    

Lesson 17: Epitaph: Epitaph to a Dog (Excerpt)

by Lord Byron

lesson image
'Saved' by Edwin Henry Landseer (The Newfoundland Breed Eulogized by Byron.)

Near this Spot

are deposited the Remains of one

who possessed Beauty without Vanity,

Strength without Insolence,

Courage without Ferocity,

and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.

This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery

if inscribed over human Ashes,

is but a just tribute to the Memory of

Boatswain, a Dog

who was born in Newfoundland May 1803

and died at Newstead Nov. 18th, 1808

    Poetic Forms Poetic Forms    

Lesson 17: Epitaph: Epitaph to a Dog (Excerpt)

by Lord Byron


Study the poem for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read the poem each day.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Read about the poetic form.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


The next poetic form we'll explore is called the epitaph. Epitaphs are poems honoring the deceased, engraved on a burial marker or tomb. There are few rules for epitaphs, other than they address the deceased, are inscribed on a burial marker or tomb, and are relatively short. Most are somber, but some use humor to remember the deceased. In the provided excerpt of "Epitaph to a Dog," British poet Lord Byron honors his Newfoundland dog, named Boatswain, that died of rabies at a young age.


Poems often adhere to specific poetic forms, defined as 'poems following distinct sets of rules.'

The nine poetic forms we'll study include the:

  1. Sijo: A lyrical Korean poetic form of three long lines.
  2. Haiku: A Japanese poem of three lines and a total of seventeen syllables.
  3. Limerick: A humorous poem of five lines and the rhyming scheme AABBA, typically having syllables of 9–9–6–6–9.
  4. Sonnet: A poetic form of fourteen lines that follow one of a few common rhyming schemes.
  5. Epitaph: A poem honoring the deceased, engraved on a burial marker or tomb.
  6. Acrostic
  7. Visual
  8. Ode
  9. Blank Verse

Epitaphs follow the listed rules:

  1. Honor the deceased
  2. Relatively short - the shorter the better
  3. Inscribed on a burial marker or tomb


Activity 1: Recite the Poem Title, Poet Name, and Poem

  • Each day this week, recite aloud the title of the poem, the name of the poet, and the poem.

Activity 2: Study the Poem Picture

Study the poem picture and describe how it relates to the poem.

Activity 3: Narrate the Poem

  • After reading the poem, narrate the poem events aloud using your own words.

Activity 4: Map the Poem

  • The featured poem is an epitaph to Lord Byron's Newfoundland dog.
  • Newfoundland dogs originated in Newfoundland, now a part of Canada.
  • Find Canada on the map of the world.

Activity 5: Complete Book Activities   

  • Click the crayon above, and complete page 20 of 'Elementary Poetry 6: Poetic Forms.'


  1. 'Epitaph.' Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org. n.p.
  2. 'Epitaph to a Dog.' Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org. n.p.