The elements of a traditional elegy mirror three stages of loss. – First, there is a lament, where the speaker expresses grief and sorrow, – then praise and admiration of the idealized dead, – and finally consolation and solace.
Many modern elegies have been written not out of a sense of personal grief, but rather a broad feeling of loss and metaphysical sadness. – A famous example is the mournful series of ten poems in Duino Elegies, by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke.
Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the Angelic Orders? And even if one were to suddenly take me to its heart, I would vanish into its stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, that we are still able to bear, and we revere it so, because it calmly disdains to destroy us. Every Angel is terror. And so I hold myself back and swallow the cry of a darkened sobbing. Ah, who then can we make use of? Not Angels: not men, and the resourceful creatures see clearly that we are not really at home in the interpreted world. Perhaps there remains some tree on a slope, that we can see again each day: there remains to us yesterday’s street, and the thinned-out loyalty of a habit that liked us, and so stayed, and never departed. Oh, and the night, the night, when the wind full of space wears out our faces – whom would she not stay for, the longed-for, gentle, disappointing one, whom the solitary heart with difficulty stands before. Is she less heavy for lovers? Ah, they only hide their fate between themselves. Do you not know yet? Throw the emptiness out of your arms to add to the spaces we breathe; maybe the birds will feel the expansion of air, in more intimate flight. First Elegy Rainer Maria Rilke.
Another Elegy by Jericho BrownJericho Brown This is what our dying looks like. You believe in the sun. I believe I can’t love you. Always be closing, Said our favorite professor before He let the gun go off in his mouth. I turned 29 the way any man turns In his sleep, unaware of the earth Moving beneath him, its plates in Their places, a dated disagreement. Let’s fight it out, baby. You have Only so long left—a man turning In his sleep—so I take a picture. I won’t look at it, of course. It’s His bad side, his Mr. Hyde, the hole In a husband’s head, the O Of his wife’s mouth. Every night, I take a pill. Miss one, and I’m gone. Miss two, and we’re through. Hotels Bore me, unless I get a mountain view, A room in which my cell won’t work, And there’s nothing to do but see The sun go down into the ground That cradles us as any coffin can.
Assignment : Write an Elegy. Review examples of the form. Include these stages in your poem. – First, there is a lament, where the speaker expresses grief and sorrow, – then praise and admiration of the idealized dead, – and finally consolation and solace. You may write in any style with any # of lines Review your poem and fix any errors. Type Edit Place in your portfolio