What is an Elegy Definition

The word ‘elegy’ comes from the Greek word ‘elegos’ meaning ‘song’. An elegy is a mournful Elegypoem about the death of a person or more rarely a group. Elegy can also express a feeling of loss in a broader sense, such as for a way of life or reflection of human morality.


1)   It is a type of lyric & focuses on expressing emotions or thoughts

2)   It uses formal language & structure.

3)   It may mourn the passing of life & beauty or someone dearer to the speaker.

4)   It may explore questions about nature of life & death or immorality of soul.

5)   It may express the speaker’s anger about death.

An elegy is not same as a ‘eulogy’ which is a statement written in prose that is read aloud at a funeral, although an elegy might serve as a eulogy.

Three elements are found in a traditional elegy-

# Firstly, it begins with mourn, a grief at the loss of something or someone.

#  In the second stage, poet shows admiration, listing qualities & impressive deeds in the person’s lifetime.

# The poem then moves to the third stage of consolidation. This last element may be more religious.

An elegy may be of different kinds-personal, impersonal or pastoral. Pastoral elegy represents both the poet & the one he mourns for-who is usually also a poet-as Shepherds. In Pastoral Elegies like ‘Lycidas’, Milton mourns in the grief of a shepherd.

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