By Jennifer Govea

Overview/History of Elegy

The forms of elegy we see today were introduced in the 16th century. It is derived from the Greek word "elegus", which means a song of bereavement also sung along with a flute

The purpose of why it is written

Elegy is a form of literature which can be defined as a poem or song.

Usually this type of poem could be performed at someone's funeral in honor of them.


Usually they don't have a certain form that they should be like, but is long most times. They are performed at people's funerals but then ends in consolation.


There is a hornet in the room

and one of us will have to go

out the window into the late

August midafternoon sun. I

won. There is a certain challenge

in being humane to hornets

but not much. A launch draws

two lines of wake behind it

on the bay like a delta

with a melted base. Sandy

billows, or so they look,

of feathery ripe heads of grass,

an acid-yellow kind of

goldenrod glowing or glowering

in shade. Rocks with rags

of shadow, washed dust clouts

that will never bleach.

It is not like this at all.

The rapid running of the

lapping water a hollow knock

of someone shipping oars:

it’s eleven years since

Frank sat at this desk and

saw and heard it all

the incessant water the

immutable crickets only

not the same: new needles

on the spruce, new seaweed

on the low-tide rocks

other grass and other water

even the great gold lichen

on a granite boulder

even the boulder quite

literally is not the same


A day subtle and suppressed

in mounds of juniper enfolding

scratchy pockets of shadow

while bigness—rocks, trees, a stump—

stands shadowless in an overcast

of ripe grass. There is nothing

but shade, like the boggy depths

of a stand of spruce, its resonance

just the thin scream

of mosquitoes ascending.

Boats are light lumps on the bay

stretching past erased islands

to ocean and the terrible tumble

and London (“rain persisting”)

and Paris (“changing to rain”).

Delicate day, setting the bright

of a young spruce against the cold

of an old one hung with unripe cones

each exuding at its tip

gum, pungent, clear as a tear,

a day tarnished and fractured

as the quartz in the rocks

of a dulled and distant point,

a day like a gull passing

with a slow flapping of wings

in a kind of lope, without

breeze enough to shake loose

the last of the fireweed flowers,

a faintly clammy day, like wet silk

stained by one dead branch

the harsh russet of dried blood.