Definition and Example of an Elegy: Shed No Tears Here
Definition of Elegy: Poetic Expression of Sorrow
The definition of elegy is a poetic expression of sorrow or mournfulness, usually associated with death. The word elegy is Greek in origin, appearing to have come from Ionia .
In fact, elegiac writing that was used in Ancient Greece was not the same as an elegy in today's writing. Elegies from Ancient Greece were not written about death, but rather were more commonly written about one's "true love." One of the most prolific writers of elegaic poetry during that time was the Greek Sextus Propertius who lived around 45 - 15 B.C. making him a contemporary of Virgil. He wrote many of his elegies to his lover, Cynthia, who was thought to have been an older, prosperous member of ancient Greek society.
The word eligy defined as this mournful lamentation did not make an appearance in English until the 16th Century. By that time, the definition of elegy becomes a poem that is somber and melancholy in tone, generally rhymes, but does not prescribe to any particular rhyming scheme, nor is it of any particular length.
There many examples of poetry that fit the definition of elegy. One of the most well known elegies, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard was written by Thomas Gray, and published in 1751 as a tribute to his friend and fellow poet, Richard West. American writer, Walt Whitman wrote the famous elegy O Captain! My Captain! as a tribute to slain President Abraham Lincoln. Both poems speak of death metaphorically and express the deep sorrow they feel for the subject of the poem.
Shed No Tears Here is a poem that adheres to the definition of elegy. It is somber in tone and is a tribute to someone who has passed, but lives on in the memories and heart of the writer.
Shed No Tears Here
Lift up your eyes, but not in despair;
God's Love covers us, as light as air.
While hearts now feel heavy and sore,
Trust and Believe there is something better in store.
So, no more sad weeping, but instead shed tears of joy.
This earthly life is but a temporary decoy.
When my shell is lifted and the eyes are clear,
I am once again united with those I held so dear.
Losing someone close to you leaves a gap that is difficult to close. Writers tend to respond to such a loss by turning to pen and paper. The written expression both captures the hurt and gives the writer release. By definition, the elegy is often the format a writer will use as an expression of their feelings. No Tears Here is an example of a short elegy.
All rights reserved. Cynthia Turner, August 2012
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