epigraphs - teachersteachingwriting



a quotation at the beginning of a poem, short story, book chapter, or other piece of literature. The epigraph introduces or refers to the larger themes of the piece: in a way, it may help draw the reader's attention to these ideas, setting the stage.

“Flock” by Billy Collins from

The Trouble With Poetry

I can see them squeezed into the holding pen behind the stone building where the printing press is housed It has been calculated that each copy of the Gutenberg Bible…required the skins of 300 sheep.

all of them squirming around to find a little room and looking so much alike - from an article on printing it would be nearly impossible to count them, and there is no telling which one will carry the news that the Lord is a shepherd, one of the few things they already know.

“The Traveling Onion” by Naomi Shihab Nye When I think how far the onion has traveled just to enter my stew today. I could kneel and praise all small forgotten miracles, crackly paper peeling on the drainboard pearly layers in smooth agreement, the way knife enters onion and onion falls apart on the chopping block, a history revealed.

And I would never scold the onion for causing tears.

It is right that tears fall for something small and forgotten.

How at meal, we sit to eat, commenting on the texture of meat or herbal aroma but never on the translucence of onion, now limp, now divided, or its traditionally honorable career: For the sake of others, disappear.

"It is believed that the onion originally came from India. In Egypt it was an object of worship why I haven't been able to find out. From Egypt the onion entered Greece and on to Italy, thence into all of Europe." --from


The Secret Life of Bees

“The queen, for her part, is the unifying force of the community; if she is removed from the hive, the workers very quickly sense her absence. After a few hours, or even less, they show unmistakable signs of queenlessness.” - chapter 1

The Poisonwood Bible

by Barbara Kingsolver The novel is broken into seven books, all but the seventh bearing the titles and epigraphs from books of the Hebrew Bible and Apocrypha. Within the sections, the story is told as a round robin, with the Price women contributing alternating first-person narrative.

Book One


Book Two

The Revelation

101 Book Three

The Judges

227 Book Four

Bel and the Serpent 3

75 Book Five


449 Book Six

Song of the Three Children


A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry

A Raisin in the Sun

was a revolutionary work for its time. Hansberry creates in the Younger family one of the first honest depictions of a black family on an American stage, in an age when predominantly black audiences simply did not exist. It explores not only the tension between white and black society but also the strain within the black community over how to react to an oppressive white community. What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore- And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?


• Life's a voyage that's homeward bound. ~ Herman Melville • Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson • You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life ~ Winston Churchill • There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.... ~ Martin Luther • Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them. ~ Leo Tolstoy • You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind. ~ Author Unknown • He knows the water best who has waded through it. ~ Danish Proverb • If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damn fool about it. ~ W.C. Fields