paying homage

I’d like to talk about the purpose of an epigraph. I had to look up what an epigraph was before I wrote this because I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. I do know, however, that it came up in class the other day when we were talking about inspiration. As writers, we have to make sure that we’re truly inspired before we write about something, so that it actually sounds good. (At least, that’s how it is for me, feel free to share your experiences if you can just write about anything at the drop of a hat).

I think that epigraphs are a great way to pay homage to what has inspired us, but I’ve discovered a different way to do that. I take a line from a song, or a poem or a movie, and I change it to fit the subject of the poem.  For example, I’ll take “The lady loves me, but she doesn’t know it yet” and change it to fit another poem. So it becomes “Oh boy does the lady love you, and don’t you know it yet?” I’ve found that the trickiest thing with this method is finding a new way to convey the sentiment behind the original line, since you’re changing it. I kind of like it when I find a way to change a line and make it so that it’s possible that the original speaker could have said that line. In other words, I like when I preserve their personality and diction when I do this, however it doesn’t come easily. Oh well. What do you think of my method? Is it too cheesy? Is it over done? Is there a way that you suggest I change it? Fire away. 🙂

3 Replies to “paying homage”

  1. I think the best way to change it up is to ask how you would say it. There are a million different ways that a line can be read. I think the content around it has to lead us in a direction that invokes a specific emotion.
    EX) I have an apple

    1) She floats like a buoy at sea, on a spring day I have an apple

    2) I have an apple. It’s rotting.

    Does that make sense? Epigraphs are hard

  2. I also wasn’t sure about the purpose of an epigraph, but thought about it a little more when we discussed epigraphs in class. I think epigraphs can be used for many purposes in the poem, depending on the poem. It could be to pay homage to the poem’s inspiration, or to provide more context for the poem, or because the epigraph has an interesting idea that connects with the poem. Also, I really like your method, it sounds like a good way to come up with new ideas to write about and different ways to say things!

  3. Epigraphs are one of those literary devices that I tend to think of as beyond me. Other, better poets might put them to good use, but in my own hands I find the end result clunky, or corny, not poignant enough to justify its own existence.

    That said, I also placed any kind of structured rhyming in that category until recently, so there’s no harm in playing with it.

    I might try out your strategy, since I’ve been itching to do something with “Sweet Thing” by Van Morrison (the first verse is a poem in itself, in my opinion, and “I shall drive my chariot/ down your streets and cry” has been rattling around my brain for weeks).

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