Travis Howard

How to Write an Elegy?- A Mourning Poem

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    Swagatika Kar

    a year

What is an Elegy?

An elegy is a specific form of poetry that expresses serious reflections like death and loss. Elegy is considered as the mourning poem for the dead. The word elegy is derived from an ancient Greek term "elegiea" which means lament for the dead. The poets usually write about their pain and grief on someone's loss. Though it has major similarities with an epitaph, but an elegy is different from an epitaph in terms of structure. You can see another different version of elegy in Roman literature. These elegies were either erotic or mythological. In the subsequent time, this form of poetry became popular in English literature too. 

What is the Format of Elegy Writing?

An elegy poem can be divided into three major sections, those are:

1. Lament section or mourning section: In this initial section, the poet expresses his pain, sadness, and grief for someone who is no more. 

2. Admiration section: Here the poet praises that person and tells how the dead person was important to him.

3. Consolation or Solace section: At last, he consoles himself and accepts the truth of his death.

Early Verse of Elegy Vs Modern Verse of Elegy:

Previously elegies were categorized under the category of fixed-verse poems. If you want to follow this early verse, you have to write the whole poem in the form of quatrains. Apart from this, you have to follow a rhyming pattern ABAB. Again, every line of such poems must be written in iambic pentameter. When a stressed syllable is followed by another unstressed syllable, that meter is iamb. If you are including 5 iambs in every line of your poem, that meter is known as iambic pentameter. Elegies don't enforce strict formats of writing. If you will compare these earlier elegies with the modern ones, you can notice a significant variation. 

The elegies written in the 19th century were considered as the modern version of those earlier elegies. If you want to stick with this modern format of elegy, then there is some good news for you. You don't have to follow any strict rhyming scheme. Again, you have full liberty to omit the meter too. What you have to do is only write the whole poem in 3 distinct sections (mentioned above).

The most important thing for an elegy is the correct flow of emotions. Sit quiet and make your emotions flow without any restrictions. Remember that person who was once close to your heart before starting your elegy. Let your emotions flow through your pen freely without getting worried about the format and structure of the poem. It is not always necessary that you have to write an elegy for a dead soul from your family or friends. You can also choose some public figure who is no more and you think that person had influenced your life to a great extent. You can even write elegies for your dead pets that you loved. 

Example of a Famous Elegy:

This famous elegy was written by Walt Whitman on the death of previous U. S. President Abraham Lincoln.

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