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“The elegy began as an ancient Greek metrical form and is traditionally written in response to the death of a person or group,” explains the Academy of American Poets. “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.” The following examples from JSTOR build on that tradition.

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“Elegy Ending with a Cell Door Closing,” Reginald Dwayne Betts

“You Were You Are Elegy,” Mary Jo Bang

“The Boy Died In My Alley,” Gwendolyn Brooks

“The Ritual,” Natalie Eilbert

“Photograph of Delmore Schwartz,” Jean Valentine

“Finding Something,” Jack Gilbert

“Fortune,” Elizabeth Alexander

“101. Multos Per Gentes El Multa Per Aeauora Vectus: Through Peoples Through Oceans Have I Come,” Anne Carson

“Writing an Elegy,” Rickey Laurentiis

“From ‘Book of Hours’,” Kevin Young


JSTOR is a digital library for scholars, researchers, and students. JSTOR Daily readers can access the original research behind our articles for free on JSTOR.

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