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Themes

If you don't read carefully, "Epitaph for an Old Woman" may seem to be just a short poem about life and death as seen through the lens of a woman's burial. But, wait... there's something a little out of the ordinary going on here, like… a dead person trembling? Sure enough, metaphorically, if not literally, there's a healthy dose of the supernatural here, helping to make the poem more magical, and, we think, more meaningful.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. Do you think that the husband is literally dust? Why, or why not? 
  2. Do you think that the husband's dust literally trembles? Why, or why not? 
  3. How does taking the supernatural in this poem literally or metaphorically affect the meaning of the poem? 
  4. Do you believe in life after death? If so, what do you imagine it is like? Do you think the speaker in this poem believes in an afterlife? Why, or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Spooky, but sweet: In this poem, the supernatural is used to show the assumed emotions of the dead.

Not so fast. The supernatural element in this poem is meant as more than a metaphor than a literal happening.

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