An elegy: Describe in brief
An elegy has its origin in classical Greek and Roman Literature. In English, an elegy is defined as ‘a poem which is invariably melancholic and centers on mourning for one’s loved one or a lament for some tragic event. Etymologically, the term ‘elegy denotes “a formal and sustained lament in verse for the death of a particular person, usually ending in a consolation” (Abrams, 1993 PP. 49-50).
When people lose their beloved, close relatives and friends then they are in sorrow and remember them. In such situation elegy takes it life because it is the way through which the poets mourn their beloved ones after their death. There are several elegies in English that have been songs of lament for specific people for example, Auden’s memory of W.B. is a famous elegy.
The major elegies fall into a distinct category called the pastoral elegy, which represents both the mourner and the one he mourns. Pastoral elegies have the following characteristics:
i. Pastoral setting
ii. Invocation to the Muses
iii. Involvement of Nature in mourning the shepherd’s death
iv. The poet’s inquiry of the guardian of the dead shepherd
v. A procession of mourners
vi. The poet’s reflection on divine justice and contemporary evils
vii. Decoration of the bier
viii. Renewal of the hope and joy
For instance, Milton’s Lycidas, Shelley’s Adonais and Arnold’s Thyrsis are some notable English pastoral elegies.