What is an elegy?
The elegy is a lyric poem that mourns the death of someone near and dear to the writer. It is longer than other lyrical poems. Usually, it begins with a description of nature to set a gloomy mood and then passes on to the cause of mourning.
In this part of the poem, the poet opens his heart and pours his grief into the poem. Traditionally, he takes the role of a shepherd and imagines his dead friend as another shepherd who used to play on the flute. Towards the end of the poem the poet feels that his dead friend is alive around him, he is not dead. In this way, he consoles himself.
Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” is a famous elegy in which the poet mourns for all the dead villagers, instead of a single dead person.
The other famous elegies in English are Milton’s “Lycidas”, Shelley’s “Adonais”, Tennyson’s “In Memorian”, and Arnold’s “Thyrsis”.