The Penguin Book of Comic and Curious Verse had some excellent examples:
Billy, in one of his nice blue sashes
Fell in the fire and was burned to ashes.;
Now, although the room grows chilly,
I haven't the heart to poke poor Billy.
Mary Ann has gone to rest,
Safe at last on Abraham's breast,
Which may be nuts for Mary Ann,
But is certainly rough on Abraham.
The perfect place for an epitaph is the gravestone: the last empty page that any of us can hope to write upon ... with no room for superfluous detail. Short of having yourself or your loved one stuffed, how can we immortalise someone who's passed? And can you sum up a life on a piece of granite?
This chap could:
Here lies my wife:
Here let her lie!
Now she's at rest
And so am I.
Ideally, it would be better if you, or someone who actually liked you were left this task. W.B Yeats took no chances by writing his own:
Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by!
But one wonders if the deceased would have approved sometimes:
"Here lies Lester Moore,
Four slugs from a forty-four.
(Boothill Cemetery, Tombstone)*
"Here lies John Yeast,
Pardon me for not rising."
(Cemetary in Ruidoso, New Mexico)*
Perhaps the most famous tombstone inscription (although it has been used several times before his death - perhaps by fans who pre-deceased him) is Spike Milligan's:
'I told you I was ill.'
Interestingly, the inscription had to be written in Gaelic to be approved by the Chichester Diocese)
So what would you like to see on your gravestone? Or, indeed, mine?
* Both sourced from Funny and Famous Tombstone Epitaphs