Good day or evening to everyone and welcome to dVerse Poets Pub! This is Gayle and I’m introducing a new form today for Meeting the Bar.
It’s inevitable that we will all experience the loss of a loved one at some point in our lives. I attended my first funeral around the age of 10 for my maternal grandmother. What I remembered most about that day was watching my mother to make sure that she wasn’t too sad. My grandmother lived a good distance away from us but I remember her staying with us a couple of times and what stands out for me was her smile…and her false teeth. I was fascinated with those teeth that she could take out of her mouth and scrub and place into a cup before she went to bed. That’s a kid for you!
Today I’m presenting how to write an elegy. The word is derived from the Greek word elegus which means “song of bereavement.” An elegy is a poem written to lament the loss of someone or something special to you. It is a poem of mourning that expresses three stages of grief: sorrow, admiration and acceptance. Elegies can be written for a personal loss, a public figure or a particular event.
If we were writing an elegy to be read at a memorial, you would want to select either a formal or informal format depending on the setting. Perhaps you would choose traditional elegiac couplets of alternating dactylic hexameter and pentameter for a more formal venue. But modern day poems use a more common iambic pentameter rhythm or a free verse form.
SORROW: In this opening part of the poem, you will express your personal feelings of loss and how this has affected you. Describe where and when you came by the news and your initial reaction. It is here that you will depict your grief. Using a metaphor may help you describe the event and create that sense of lament.
ADMIRATION: Here you will share your memories of the person and what they meant to you and their unique, personal qualities and skills. Reflect on all of the ways that this person was important to you, their values and the particular achievements that they had attained in their lives. Use vivid imagery to describe specific details.
ACCEPTANCE: In this last portion of the elegy you will come to terms with the loss and realize that peace may be felt by the subject and yourself as well. Words of consolation and solace can be offered and memories of what or who the deceased has left behind, such as the legacy of loved ones and lasting career accomplishments.
The following are some examples:
On My First Son by Ben Jonson
(After the death of his young son in 1616)
Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
My sin was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy.
Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
Oh, could I lose all father now! For why
Will man lament the state he should envie?
To have so soon ‘scaped world’s and flesh’s rage,
And if no other misery, yet age!
Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say,
Here doth lie Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry.
For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such
As what he loves may never like too much.
Photo of H. Auden; Bing Images
In Memory of W. B. Yeats Click here to read this in its entirety.
by H. Auden, 1907 – 1973
He disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen,
the airports almost deserted,
And snow disfigured the public statues;
The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.
Far from his illness
The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests,
The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays;
By mourning tongues
The death of the poet was kept from his poems…
Many of you are acquainted with Walt Whitman’s elegy for President Abraham Lincoln entitled, “O Captain, My Captain” which you can read by clicking here.
In Memory of You by Gayle Walters Rose; All Rights Reserved
Shocking grief you’ve made me lost
Alive yet dead, my heart is crushed
My eyes are lifeless..no longer see
Your visage departed, breaking parts of me
Distress down deep claws at my bones
Spring vining green turned withered stone
Interests declined as so did you
I languish forlorn in a world askew
You were my life, a radiant light
Held high aloft so my path wound bright
Wickedly clever, intelligent and quick
A candle burning with an endless wick
But your brilliant glow has been obscured
Consuming dissolution has me floored
Suffering madly, I feel only separation
Gone my lover, passion, adoration
May I forever remember your gentle excellence
That guided my nature, character and strength
Leaving me gifts that nourish my soul
Your undying goodness does offer console
Stone Flowers (Photo credit: elycefeliz)
I eagerly look forward to reading your elegies!
If you are new to D’verse, here’s how it works…
- Write a poem related to the prompt and post it to your blog.
- Click on the Mr Linky button below to add your name and enter the direct URL to your poem.
- You will find links to other poets. Read and comment on other poet’s work.
- If you are promoting your work on social media, use the tag #dversepoets.
- Have fun!