With respect to Greek sepulchral epigrams in particular (for instance, Callimachus's epigrams on a dead shipwrecked sailor and a dead poet), the following passage is worth considering:
"[The sepulchral epigrams of The Greek Anthology] have such a natural dignity and delicacy of feeling about death that no change of nationality or even religion can estrange us wholly from them. What else is the achievement of Greece than this, that her people thought beautifully and justly, and expressed their thought in a most sure-fingered adequacy of form, about matters which flesh and blood can never cease to be concerned with, all apparent revolutions and progresses of civilization notwithstanding? About all such bottomless contrasts as the difference between town and country, night and day, sea and land, youth and age, life and death, nobody writes the better for all the development of human ingenuity."
J. S. Phillimore, "Crinagoras of Mitylene," The Dublin Review, Volume CXXXIX (1906), page 82.
Yes, "human ingenuity" (exalted -- nay, worshipped -- in our time; see, e.g., science and technology) and "humanity" are two entirely different things, aren't they?
Jan Beerstraten (1622-1666), "A Winter Landscape near Castle Buren"
To a Poet a Thousand Years Hence
I who am dead a thousand years,
And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words for messengers
The way I shall not pass along.
I care not if you bridge the seas,
Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces
Of metal or of masonry.
But have you wine and music still,
And statues and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above?
How shall we conquer? Like a wind
That falls at eve our fancies blow,
And old Maeonides the blind
Said it three thousand years ago.
O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.
Since I can never see your face,
And never shake you by the hand,
I send my soul through time and space
To greet you. You will understand.
James Elroy Flecker, Forty-Two Poems (1911). "Old Maeonides the blind" (line 15) refers to Homer, who is said to have been from Maeonia (Lydia), and was thus a Maeonide.
Although the poem is directed "to a poet" and although it speaks in terms of "our sweet English tongue," I think that it can apply as well to readers of poetry, in any tongue.
Jan Beerstraten, "Skating Scene"
On a broader note:
When books have all seized up like the books in graveyards
And reading and even speaking have been replaced
By other, less difficult, media, we wonder if you
Will find in flowers and fruit the same colour and taste
They held for us for whom they were framed in words,
And will your grass be green, your sky be blue,
Or will your birds be always wingless birds?
Louis MacNeice, Visitations (Faber and Faber 1957).
"Other, less difficult, media." Sounds about right. It has happened more quickly than MacNeice might have imagined. And, although he never experienced ebooks, Kindles, and iPads, MacNeice was inadvertently prescient in one particular: "when books have all seized up like the books in graveyards." (I apologize to those who swear by such contraptions. Personally, I require the feel of paper and the turning of pages. Except for blogs, of course!)
Jan Beerstraten, "The Castle of Muiden in Winter" (1658)