elegy


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
Related to elegy: Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

elegy,

in Greek and Roman poetry, a poem written in elegiac verse (i.e., couplets consisting of a hexameter line followed by a pentameter line). The form dates back to 7th cent. B.C. in Greece and poets such as Archilochus, Mimnermus, and Tytraeus. Later taken up and developed in Roman poetry, it was widely used by Catullus, Ovid, and other Latin poets. In English poetry, since the 16th cent., the term elegy designates a reflective poem of lamentation or regret, with no set metrical form, generally of melancholy tone, often on death. The elegy can mourn one person, such as Walt Whitman's "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" on the death of Abraham Lincoln, or it can mourn humanity in general, as in Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard." In the pastoral elegy, modeled on the Greek poets Theocritus and Bion, the subject and friends are depicted as nymphs and shepherds inhabiting a pastoral world in classical times. Famous pastoral elegies are Milton's "Lycidas," on Edward King; Shelley's "Adonais," on John Keats; and Matthew Arnold's "Thyrsis," on Arthur Hugh Clough.

Elegy

 

a literary and musical genre. In poetry, an elegy is a poem of medium length, meditative or emotional (usually sorrowful) in content. It is most often written in the first person but is not governed by any specific rules of composition.

The elegy originated in Greece in the seventh century B.C.; the first examples, by Callinus, Mimnermus, Tyrteus, and Theognis, were mainly moral and political in content. In Hellenistic and Roman poetry, notably in the works of Tibullus, Propertius, and Ovid, the love theme came to predominate. The form of the classical elegy was the elegiac distich. In imitation of classical models, elegies were written in the Latin poetry of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the elegy was introduced into the new vernacular poetry by P. de Ronsard in France, E. Spenser in England, M. Opitz in Germany, and J. Kochanow-ski in Poland. However, it was long considered a minor genre. The elegy flourished during the preromantic and romantic periods, with the melancholy elegies of T. Gray, E. Jung, C. Millevoye, A. Chenier, and A. de Lamartine; the love elegies of E. Parny; and the classical elegy which was reestablished in Goethe’s Roman Elegies. Later the elegy gradually lost its distinction as a genre, and the term has been passing out of use, remaining only as a tribute to poetic tradition, for example, R. M. Rilke’s Duino Elegies and B. Brecht’s Buckow Elegies.

In Russian poetry, the elegy appeared in the 18th century. Introduced by V. K. Trediakovskii and A. P. Sumarokov, the genre reached its highest level of development in the works of V. A. Zhukovskii, K. N. Batiushkov, A. S. Pushkin (“The Light of Day Has Dimmed,” “The Clouds Are Thinning,” “The Faded Merriment of Our Youthful Madness”), E. A. Baratynskii, and N. M. lazykov. Beginning in the second half of the 19th century, poets used the word “elegy” only as the title of cycles, for example, A. A. Fet, and of individual poems, for example, A. Akhmatova and D. Samoilov.

In music, the elegy is the embodiment of the elegiac poem, for example, Borodin’s art song “For the Shores of Thy Fair Native Land” and Massenet’s Elegy for Voice, Piano, and Cello. Purely instrumental works have also been based on such compositions, for example, Tchaikovsky’s elegy from the Serenade for String Orchestra and Rachmaninoff s and Liszt’s elegies for piano.

REFERENCE

Frizman, L. G. Zhizn’ liricheskogo zhanra: Russkaia elegiia ot Sumarokova do Nekrasova. Moscow, 1973.

M. L. GASPAROV (the elegy in literature)

elegy

1. a mournful or plaintive poem or song, esp a lament for the dead
2. poetry or a poem written in elegiac couplets or stanzas
References in periodicals archive ?
I felt that it was really important to do this piece, after all we were part of the coalition which has helped to bring this situation about," the director of Elegy noted.
In this essay, I argue that Arnold's elegies deploy a revised form of the pastoral and the trope of apostrophe to make people, in their absence, inseparable from the places of their past; in turn the elegies remake these places into sites of mourning and memory that endure despite the consolatory work of the elegy itself.
In its critique of "a society in which women cannot pursue their 'tender thoughts and high,' poetry both of the affections and the imagination," Vincent argues, Hemans locates the value of her elegy (p.
The same is true of the pausing, dying breezes: they do introduce a note of nostalgic elegy, but this is not fully developed; the elegy is all in the pastoral distancing.
In the progression of the tenth elegy, Rilke establishes the personal experience of death as the anchor of human consciousness; the experience of death enables the affirmation of the unity of life and death.
ELEGY BEACH offers a fine sequel to Steven Boyett's AERIEL and is a recommended pick for any library that found AERIEL a popular lend.
The American Elegy is not an easy book to read for a number of reasons.
The new Elegy, adapted from Philip Roth's short novel The Dying Animal, strikes a similar note, though maintaining a more austere literary tone.
As rare as it is to see a male movie veteran share the screen with a love interest his own age, it's rarer still that this inequality is actually addressed, making the new films Elegy and Before I Forget somewhat aberrant.
Elegy, Bang's spare, intimate new volume, and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for 2007, redresses this anti-confessional stance, now a decade old.
These were the words--the beginning of the only elegy I know, not being an English specialist
The two other minor pieces The Quiet of the Forest and Rondo are less well known, while Suk's Elegy in the form in which it appears on this CD is a complete rarity