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A pensive lyric poem lamenting the passing of a famous person, a close friend, or a loved one; or, more broadly, any reflective lyric on the subject of mortality in general. A poem written in the elegiac meter, which alternates lines of dactylic hexameter and pentameter, was simply referred to as an "elegy" in classical literature. Many classical elegies were love poems, though some were laments. The term "elegy" refers to this rhythm more than the content of the poem in some contemporary literature, such as German, where the traditional elegiac meter has been adapted to the language. Because of this, Rainer Maria Rilke's well-known Duineser Elegien (Duino Elegies) does not lament; rather, they discuss the poet's quest for spiritual principles in a strange reality. However, since the 16th century, the term "elegy" in English literature has evolved to refer to a poem of grief. Any meter the poet chooses may be used.

Elegia, a form of ancient Greek poetry, is where elegiac poetry originates. A literary verse that uses elegiac couplets that addresses issues like grief, death, love, and war was referred to by this title. Romans routinely copied Greek creative traditions when they invaded Greek countries, and elegiac poetry was no exception. Similar subjects were covered in Roman elegies, which were composed in Latin, with a focus on sensual or mythological themes.

After being resurrected during the Renaissance, elegy poems eventually entered the canon of English literature. While somewhat downplaying the sexuality of their Roman forefathers, English poets emphasized death and the loss of a loved one.

The pastoral elegy is a particular type of elegy that adopts the classical norm of portraying its subject as an idealized shepherd in an ideal pastoral setting and adheres to a very formal pattern. The poem opens with a lament and an appeal to the Muse to help the poet describe his pain.

Typically, it describes a funeral procession, sympathetic grieving in nature, and reflections on the cruelness of death. It concludes with acceptance of nature's law, frequently with a strong justification. The most notable example of an English pastoral elegy is John Milton's "Lycidas" (1638), which was composed in response to the passing of his college companion Edward King. Other prominent pastoral elegies include "Adonais" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1821), written in remembrance of the poet John Keats, and "Thyrsis" by Matthew Arnold (1867), written in remembrance of the poet Arthur Hugh Clough.

Other elegies don't follow any established rules or traditions. The English "graveyard school" of poets, who combined somber, occasionally ghastly images of human impermanence with philosophical contemplation, produced comprehensive meditations on death and eternity in the 18th century.

The best-known of these poems is Thomas Gray's more tastefully subdued creation "An Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard" (1751), which pays homage to the generations of lowly and unknown villagers interred in a church cemetery. Representative works include Edward Young's Night Thoughts (1742-45) and Robert Blair's Grave (1743). In the United States, William Cullen Bryant's "Thanatopsis" is the equivalent of the cemetery style (1817).In Walt Whitman's "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," the customary tragic fallacy of attributing sorrow to nature is addressed in a completely new way (1865–66).

The elegy continues to be a common and significant poetic expression in contemporary poetry. The range and variety of it can be seen in poems by A.E. Housman, W.H. Auden, E.E. Cummings, John Peale Bishop, Robert Lowell, and others like "To an Athlete Dying Young," "In Memory of W.B. Yeats," "Hours" (on F. Scott Fitzgerald), and "The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket."

Consonance is the repeating of the same or similar consonants; more precisely, it is the correspondence of the final or intermediate consonants when there is no matching vowel at the end of two or more syllables, words, or other compositional units.

It is frequently used in conjunction with alliteration and assonance, a poetic style that repeats stressed vowel sounds within words with various final consonants (the repetition of initial consonant sounds). Consonance can also be employed as an off-rhyme on occasion, but it is more frequently utilized as an internal sound effect, as in Shakespeare's song "The ousel cock so dark of hue" or Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard" The "'s curfew tolls the knell of parting day." 


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