What is an elegy in English literature?

An elegy is a form of poetry or a musical composition that typically reflects on themes of sorrow, loss, or lamentation. It is often written in memory of someone who has passed away or to express deep emotions related to grief and mourning. Elegies can vary in tone and style, but they generally convey a sense of melancholy and reflection.

The word “elegy” is derived from the Greek term “elegeia,” which originally referred to a poetic form that combined elegiac couplets with themes of loss and mourning. Over time, the term has evolved to encompass a broader range of expressions in literature, music, and other artistic forms.

Elegies are not limited to mourning the deceased; they can also address broader themes such as the passage of time, the transience of life, or the loss of something cherished. Famous examples of elegiac poetry include “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” by Thomas Gray and “In Memoriam” by Alfred Lord Tennyson.