While elegy poems are not exactly the most joyful type of literature available, they are certainly worth knowing about since they provide details to the reader about someone else's life. One well known example of an elegy is Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.
Generally, elegies serve to mourn the loss of a loved one; but, they can sometimes be about different types of feelings of sadness or loss of productivity as opposed to solely focusing on death.
Whether you have read the following poems before or not, reviewing them will provide a more clear understanding of what an elegy poem is and how it functions.
Some of these poems are quite famous, while others are not very well known. In any case, reading them will help deepen your appreciation for elegy poems.
Studying, deciphering and analyzing the test of elegy poems is the most effective way to understand the form and emotional effect of such literature.
Here's a selection from Walt Whitman's poem entitled, O Captain! My Captain! which was written in memory of Abraham Lincoln:
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
Whitman describes the emotions that he felt when Lincoln was murdered, and he paints an emotionally evoking picture of the dead Captain lying still.
Read this more modern selection, which is from Marie Howe's What the Living Do.
This is it. Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss-we want more and more and then more of it.But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass, say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless: I am living. I remember you.
Once again, the reader sees the emotions of a person stricken by a deep, biting loss.