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Dumb Beasts in Hallowed Tombs

Swedish Funerary Poetry for Animals 1670–1760

Daniel Möller

When Kersti Berg died in 1735, she was honoured with an obituary in the form of a poetic epitaph composed by Olof von Dalin. A modern-day reader can easily get the impression that Dalin’s poem is an example of a funerary poem for a human being – one of the eighteenth century’s most common poetic genres. Kersti Berg, however, was a dog, and Dalin’s poem belongs to another genre, namely, the animal epitaph. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries this was a frequently practised form of poetry which could be used for a great many purposes, from imitations of ancient originals to masked poems composed to convey a political message or to further the writer’s career.

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