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Elegies


  • Serious, formal lyric poems that reflect on a solemn subject, generally someone's death. For non-narrative poems that express a deep regret or sorrow for the loss of a person or position see [Laments.]

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  • Form

    • Elegies
  • Variants

    • Elegiac poetry
  • Broader Terms

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  • Sources

    • found: Poets.org, viewed Dec. 26, 2012(Poetic Form: Elegy--The elegy began as an ancient Greek metrical form and is traditionally written in response to the death of a person or group. Though similar in function, the elegy is distinct from the epitaph, ode, and eulogy: the epitaph is very brief; the ode solely exalts; and the eulogy is most often written in formal prose. The elements of a traditional elegy mirror three stages of loss. First, there is a lament, where the speaker expresses grief and sorrow, then praise and admiration of the idealized dead, and finally consolation and solace. These three stages can be seen in W. H. Auden's classic "In Memory of W. B. Yeats." Other well-known elegies include "Fugue of Death" by Paul Celan, written for victims of the Holocaust, and "O Captain! My Captain!" by Walt Whitman, written for President Abraham Lincoln. Many modern elegies have been written not out of a sense of personal grief, but rather a broad feeling of loss and metaphysical sadness)
    • found: Baldick, C. The Oxford dict. of literary terms, 2008(elegy. An elaborately formal lyric poem lamenting the death of a friend or public figure, or reflecting seriously on a solemn subject. In Greek and Latin verse, the term referred to the metre of a poem (alternating dactylic hexameters and pentameters in couplets known as elegiac distichs), not to its mood or content: love poems were often included. But since Milton's Lycidas (1637), the term in English has usually denoted a lament, while the adjective 'elegiac' has come to refer to the mournful mood of such poems.)
    • found: Kennedy, X.J. The Longman dict. of literary terms, c2006(Elegy. A lament or a meditative poem, often written on the occasion of a death or other solemn event or theme; usually a complete poem in a formal style; one kind of elegy that is especially important in English literary history is the pastoral elegy; pastoral elegies combine pastoral themes and images--nature deities, seasonal vegetation--with a memorialization of a deceased friend or comrade)
    • found: LCSH, Oct. 21, 2014(Elegiac poetry)
  • General Notes

    • Serious, formal lyric poems that reflect on a solemn subject, generally someone's death. For non-narrative poems that express a deep regret or sorrow for the loss of a person or position see [Laments.]
  • Example Notes

    • Note under [Laments]
  • Change Notes

    • 2014-12-01: new
    • 2016-02-06: revised
  • Alternate Formats

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