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What is the Definition and an Example of an Elegy: Shed No Tears Here

Cynthia - a freelance writer and amateur photographer believing in the power of words, the magic of storytelling in poetry, prose or photos.


Definition of Elegy: Poetic Expression of Sorrow

The definition of elegy is a poetic expression of sorrow or mournfulness, usually associated with death. The word elegy is Greek in origin, appearing to have come from Ionia .

In fact, elegiac writing that was used in Ancient Greece was not the same as an elegy in today's writing. Elegies from Ancient Greece were not written about death, but rather were more commonly written about one's "true love." One of the most prolific writers of elegaic poetry during that time was the Greek Sextus Propertius who lived around 45 - 15 B.C. making him a contemporary of Virgil. He wrote many of his elegies to his lover, Cynthia, who was thought to have been an older, prosperous member of ancient Greek society.

The word eligy defined as this mournful lamentation did not make an appearance in English until the 16th Century. By that time, the definition of elegy becomes a poem that is somber and melancholy in tone, generally rhymes, but does not prescribe to any particular rhyming scheme, nor is it of any particular length.

There many examples of poetry that fit the definition of elegy. One of the most well known elegies, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard was written by Thomas Gray, and published in 1751 as a tribute to his friend and fellow poet, Richard West. American writer, Walt Whitman wrote the famous elegy O Captain! My Captain! as a tribute to slain President Abraham Lincoln. Both poems speak of death metaphorically and express the deep sorrow they feel for the subject of the poem.

Shed No Tears Here is a poem that adheres to the definition of elegy. It is somber in tone and is a tribute to someone who has passed, but lives on in the memories and heart of the writer.


Shed No Tears Here

Lift up your eyes, but not in despair;

God's Love covers us, as light as air.

While hearts now feel heavy and sore,

Trust and Believe there is something better in store.

So, no more sad weeping, but instead shed tears of joy.

This earthly life is but a temporary decoy.

When my shell is lifted and the eyes are clear,

I am once again united with those I held so dear.

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Losing someone close to you leaves a gap that is difficult to close. Writers tend to respond to such a loss by turning to pen and paper. The written expression both captures the hurt and gives the writer release. By definition, the elegy is often the format a writer will use as an expression of their feelings. No Tears Here is an example of a short elegy.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Cynthia B Turner


Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on February 17, 2013:

I thank you for the Angels and for reading my work. Writing that elegy was very cathartic. It's surprising how many very famous elegies there are. i had forgotten that fact. Thank you for the vote.

Have a peaceful day.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on February 17, 2013:

Back in the day I am sure I was informed what an elegy was but thanks for the refresher. It was an avenue into greater appreciation of the elegy you shared. Writing feelings down in times of sorrow is such a powerful way to try to work through the pain.

Thanks for sharing this...voted up ++++

Sending you many Angels this morning :) ps

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on December 17, 2012:

Thank you so much for the vote. It's always what we hubbers want to know, that you enjoyed the writing.

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on December 16, 2012:

Very beautifully written and well crafted poem which made it a awesome read !

Vote up and more !!!

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on November 11, 2012:

Hello, Thanks so much for the 2 thumbs up and for appreciating the educational and the inspirational.

Loveofnight Anderson from Baltimore, Maryland on November 10, 2012:

Two thumbs up, I love your presentation and the poem gave balance and blended well. Educational and inspirational as well, thanks much.

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on October 24, 2012:

Hello, Thank you for adding to the information about the origin of elegy.You are probably right about the Latin root of the word. I so glad you took a moment to read and leave a comment.

Joseph De Cross from New York on October 24, 2012:

Thanks for the historical intro. Elegy was so much needed even before the word got picked up by the English language four centuries ago. I might suspect that is related to the word "electus," or chosen one. So in a way is singling out the inspiration to a chosen individual, whether a lover or a departed. Thanks for sharing your words and the insightful explanation.

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on September 16, 2012:

Hello Sommer, Thank you so much for the kind words! Take care.

Sommer Dalton on September 15, 2012:

Wow beautiful!! Voted up, awesome, useful, and interesting!!

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on September 11, 2012:

Hi Debbie, Thank you so much for the kind words. Everyone could benefit from writing their feelings, but many don't realize just how much it can help most situations. Glad you stopped by. Take care and be creative.

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on September 10, 2012:

wow love your poem. and how true it is how we turn to pen and paper to describe our loss and hurts sadness and happiest.



Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on September 02, 2012:

Hello Aubrey, Thank you for taking the time read and comment. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Take care!

AE Williams from Atlanta, GA on September 02, 2012:

Awesomeness, Cyndi. It was very informative and a fun read. Good work. See ya around the hubs!


Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 27, 2012:

Hi, Please don't apologize. That's the best thing any writer can ever hear. Thank you so much for your kind, kind comments. Take care.

shruti sheshadri from Bangalore, India on August 26, 2012:

Brilliant, really splendid writing, I am reading each of your hubs and am unable to stop commenting, apologies for the repeated feed from me!

Really enjoyed it , take care :)

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 26, 2012:

Hello Audrey, I can't begin to imagine the kind of pain you have felt at losing your son. I do know that writing can help the healing. I am so very happy that you found my hub to be helpful for you. As a writer, I couldn't ask for much more than that. Thank you and take good care.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on August 25, 2012:

I can't thank you enough for this awesome (voted this way) hub. Thank you for teaching me the meaning of Elegy. You wrote about me but you didn't know it. I, just as you have said, found a kind of relief by writing poetry about the death of my son. And the comforting comments I received helped me as well. I am a fan!

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 25, 2012:

Yes, Gray's Elegy is a classic. A lot of high school lit. classes required it. Thanks for reading mine. Take care and have a creative day.

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on August 24, 2012:

Gray's poem is classic, I remember when I first read it. Your poem is right to say shed tears of joy... those are the best kind. Beautiful.

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 24, 2012:

Thank you so much for your generous comment, Michelle. Take care and have a creative evening.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on August 24, 2012:

This is beautiful, Cyndi10. You've really defined an elegy so well with this lovely poem. Well crafted and explained!

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 23, 2012:

As always, I really appreciate your comments and love it when you stop in. And that score, I'm loving it. I know it can change in a flash. Take care.

epigramman on August 23, 2012:

...well there must certainly be no elegy about your perfect hub score - rather a celebration - but this is a really nice introduction, tribute and example of the elegy as a poetic art form - love your work here and the fabulous presentation - sending you warm wishes and good energy from lake erie time ontario canada 9:38pm

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 23, 2012:

Hi Marlene, I'm so glad you liked the poem. When other writers take the time to leave a comment, I really appreciate that.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on August 22, 2012:

I don't know much about poetry. I have never heard of an elegy before now. Your poem beautifully exemplifies this style. I like it a lot.

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 20, 2012:

Hello Radhikasree, Tears can be a great catharsis for sadness and for joy. They are certainly a release if you feel alone an unloved, a temporary condition, to be sure. Love so often comes in unexpected places and unexpected forms. Take care. Guard your heart.

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 20, 2012:

Hello Sue, Thank you for the vote up. I'm so glad you enjoyed my attempt at an elegy.

Radhika Sreekanth from Mumbai,India on August 20, 2012:

For me shedding tears gives a great relief from all sorrows. Writing is a wonderful way to get rid of them when there is nobody to love you....

Great hub for all those with a broken heart.

Sueswan on August 19, 2012:

Hi Cyndi

I have read elegies but I didn't know that is what they were called.

Voted up and beautiful

Take care :)

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 19, 2012:

Hi OTEE, You are entitled to having your own thoughts about an article. I would love for everyone to think that everything I wrote was wonderful, but that won't happen. We all have different tastes. Take care.

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 19, 2012:

Thank you so much, Victoria, on all fronts. I'm pleased you found it to be a nice hub! Take care!

OTEE from India on August 19, 2012:

Oops. lets me elaborate Cyndi - it is a very informative hub and I learnt more about elegies; that elegies were originally about true love; that the format defines an elegy and not the content. :)

Maybe I should have left out my afterthought. :(

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on August 19, 2012:

It's so true about turning to pen and paper when we lose someone. Nice lesson on the elegy!

Dang, I did take offense from OTEE, though. I thought it was a nice hub! ;-)

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 17, 2012:

Hello Otee, None taken. I'm pleased you took the time to comment. Thanks so much.

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 17, 2012:

I think many people write in the elegy format without realizing they are. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 17, 2012:

I'm happy you took the time to read and to leave a comment. Many thanks.

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 17, 2012:

Thanks very much, Frank. I appreciate the feedback!

OTEE from India on August 17, 2012:

Good hub Cyndi. But doesn't measure up to some of your other hubs. No offence meant. :)

Suzie from Carson City on August 17, 2012:

Cyndi......Thank you for the "education." This is quite interesting and the poem you have included is just beautiful.........To move in meaning from death to love.....well, maybe that's not such a stretch!! lol UP+++

Hillary from Atlanta, GA on August 17, 2012:

Lovely, sad, and quite meaningful. Thanks.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on August 17, 2012:

wow this was very helpful you've actually captured the lamentation for one who is dead.. great hub :)

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 17, 2012:

Hi, I'm glad you were able to take some time out to read and leave me a comment. I appreciate it.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on August 16, 2012:

Thank you. You're instruction and illustrations are very helpful

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 16, 2012:

I'm so glad you think I've captured the concept of an elegy. Thank you so much for leaving that message for me! Take care.

Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on August 16, 2012:

Beautiful words you have expressed. Thank you so much for sharing those words with me and for appreciating the message in my elegy. I truly appreciate your comments.

Jim Higgins from Eugene, Oregon on August 16, 2012:

A really good illustration of the concept of elegy. Up!

whonunuwho from United States on August 16, 2012:

I like your message and the way you presented the material in your work. Tears are like the raindrops of the angels and blend with our own in helping us to maintain and endure the hardships and worst challenges, we all face. It is a human trait and needed to not only express our grief, but our heartfelt concern in life's tribulations. There are tears of sadness and tears of joy, all a part of each life. Thank you for your wonderful work.

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