J. M Edmonds’s Epitaph


J. M Edmonds (1875 – 1958) was an English classicist, poet, and dramatist who is notable as the creator of celebrated epitaphs.

Notable Works

Epitaph in the Kohima Allied war cemetery.

When you go home, tell them of us and say
For their tomorrow, we gave our today.

The Times entry of 6 February 1918, page 7, headed “Four Epitaphs”. The most famous was the second epitaph.

Went the day well?
We died and never knew.
But, well or ill,
Freedom, we died for you.

This was inspired by Simonides of Ceos (556-468 BC), the Greek lyric poet who, after the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, wrote as a memorial to the valiant defenders

Go tell the spartans,
Thou that passeth by,
That faithful to their precepts,
Here we lie

These sentiments were later used by John Maxwell Edmonds as part of a collection of 12 epitaphs for World War One.


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