Definition and Example of an Elegy: Shed No Tears Here

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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.

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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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Comments 48 comments

whonunuwho profile image

whonunuwho 4 years ago from United States

I like your message and the way you presented the material in your work. Tears are like the raindrops of the angels and blend with our own in helping us to maintain and endure the hardships and worst challenges, we all face. It is a human trait and needed to not only express our grief, but our heartfelt concern in life's tribulations. There are tears of sadness and tears of joy, all a part of each life. Thank you for your wonderful work.


xstatic profile image

xstatic 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

A really good illustration of the concept of elegy. Up!


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Beautiful words you have expressed. Thank you so much for sharing those words with me and for appreciating the message in my elegy. I truly appreciate your comments.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

I'm so glad you think I've captured the concept of an elegy. Thank you so much for leaving that message for me! Take care.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you. You're instruction and illustrations are very helpful


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, I'm glad you were able to take some time out to read and leave me a comment. I appreciate it.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

wow this was very helpful you've actually captured the lamentation for one who is dead.. great hub :)


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Lovely, sad, and quite meaningful. Thanks.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Cyndi......Thank you for the "education." This is quite interesting and the poem you have included is just beautiful.........To move in meaning from death to love.....well, maybe that's not such a stretch!! lol UP+++


OTEE profile image

OTEE 4 years ago from India

Good hub Cyndi. But doesn't measure up to some of your other hubs. No offence meant. :)


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks very much, Frank. I appreciate the feedback!


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

I'm happy you took the time to read and to leave a comment. Many thanks.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

I think many people write in the elegy format without realizing they are. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hello Otee, None taken. I'm pleased you took the time to comment. Thanks so much.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

It's so true about turning to pen and paper when we lose someone. Nice lesson on the elegy!

Dang, I did take offense from OTEE, though. I thought it was a nice hub! ;-)


OTEE profile image

OTEE 4 years ago from India

Oops. lets me elaborate Cyndi - it is a very informative hub and I learnt more about elegies; that elegies were originally about true love; that the format defines an elegy and not the content. :)

Maybe I should have left out my afterthought. :(


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Thank you so much, Victoria, on all fronts. I'm pleased you found it to be a nice hub! Take care!


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi OTEE, You are entitled to having your own thoughts about an article. I would love for everyone to think that everything I wrote was wonderful, but that won't happen. We all have different tastes. Take care.


Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi Cyndi

I have read elegies but I didn't know that is what they were called.

Voted up and beautiful

Take care :)


radhikasree profile image

radhikasree 4 years ago from Mumbai,India

For me shedding tears gives a great relief from all sorrows. Writing is a wonderful way to get rid of them when there is nobody to love you....

Great hub for all those with a broken heart.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hello Sue, Thank you for the vote up. I'm so glad you enjoyed my attempt at an elegy.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hello Radhikasree, Tears can be a great catharsis for sadness and for joy. They are certainly a release if you feel alone an unloved, a temporary condition, to be sure. Love so often comes in unexpected places and unexpected forms. Take care. Guard your heart.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

I don't know much about poetry. I have never heard of an elegy before now. Your poem beautifully exemplifies this style. I like it a lot.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi Marlene, I'm so glad you liked the poem. When other writers take the time to leave a comment, I really appreciate that.


epigramman profile image

epigramman 4 years ago

...well there must certainly be no elegy about your perfect hub score - rather a celebration - but this is a really nice introduction, tribute and example of the elegy as a poetic art form - love your work here and the fabulous presentation - sending you warm wishes and good energy from lake erie time ontario canada 9:38pm


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

As always, I really appreciate your comments and love it when you stop in. And that score, I'm loving it. I know it can change in a flash. Take care.


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

This is beautiful, Cyndi10. You've really defined an elegy so well with this lovely poem. Well crafted and explained!


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Thank you so much for your generous comment, Michelle. Take care and have a creative evening.


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Gray's poem is classic, I remember when I first read it. Your poem is right to say shed tears of joy... those are the best kind. Beautiful.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Yes, Gray's Elegy is a classic. A lot of high school lit. classes required it. Thanks for reading mine. Take care and have a creative day.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

I can't thank you enough for this awesome (voted this way) hub. Thank you for teaching me the meaning of Elegy. You wrote about me but you didn't know it. I, just as you have said, found a kind of relief by writing poetry about the death of my son. And the comforting comments I received helped me as well. I am a fan!


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hello Audrey, I can't begin to imagine the kind of pain you have felt at losing your son. I do know that writing can help the healing. I am so very happy that you found my hub to be helpful for you. As a writer, I couldn't ask for much more than that. Thank you and take good care.


shruti sheshadri profile image

shruti sheshadri 4 years ago from Bangalore, India

Brilliant, really splendid writing, I am reading each of your hubs and am unable to stop commenting, apologies for the repeated feed from me!

Really enjoyed it , take care :)


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, Please don't apologize. That's the best thing any writer can ever hear. Thank you so much for your kind, kind comments. Take care.


CrazedNovelist profile image

CrazedNovelist 4 years ago from Hampton, GA

Awesomeness, Cyndi. It was very informative and a fun read. Good work. See ya around the hubs!

-Aubrey


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hello Aubrey, Thank you for taking the time read and comment. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Take care!


Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

wow love your poem. and how true it is how we turn to pen and paper to describe our loss and hurts sadness and happiest.

Blessings

Debbie


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi Debbie, Thank you so much for the kind words. Everyone could benefit from writing their feelings, but many don't realize just how much it can help most situations. Glad you stopped by. Take care and be creative.


SommerDalton profile image

SommerDalton 4 years ago

Wow beautiful!! Voted up, awesome, useful, and interesting!!


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hello Sommer, Thank you so much for the kind words! Take care.


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 4 years ago

Thanks for the historical intro. Elegy was so much needed even before the word got picked up by the English language four centuries ago. I might suspect that is related to the word "electus," or chosen one. So in a way is singling out the inspiration to a chosen individual, whether a lover or a departed. Thanks for sharing your words and the insightful explanation.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hello, Thank you for adding to the information about the origin of elegy.You are probably right about the Latin root of the word. I so glad you took a moment to read and leave a comment.


loveofnight profile image

loveofnight 4 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

Two thumbs up, I love your presentation and the poem gave balance and blended well. Educational and inspirational as well, thanks much.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hello, Thanks so much for the 2 thumbs up and for appreciating the educational and the inspirational.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Very beautifully written and well crafted poem which made it a awesome read !

Vote up and more !!!


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 3 years ago from Georgia Author

Thank you so much for the vote. It's always what we hubbers want to know, that you enjoyed the writing.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

Back in the day I am sure I was informed what an elegy was but thanks for the refresher. It was an avenue into greater appreciation of the elegy you shared. Writing feelings down in times of sorrow is such a powerful way to try to work through the pain.

Thanks for sharing this...voted up ++++

Sending you many Angels this morning :) ps


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 3 years ago from Georgia Author

I thank you for the Angels and for reading my work. Writing that elegy was very cathartic. It's surprising how many very famous elegies there are. i had forgotten that fact. Thank you for the vote.

Have a peaceful day.

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