POETS ONLINE ARCHIVE - ELEGIES

Elegy - from the Greek elegeia which means "song of mourning" - an interesting idea, to sing your mourning... Poetry anthologies are filled with them. Marie Howe takes the form in a somewhat different direction in her poem "What The Living Do." Written to her brother, it sings a song of living as it sings her song of mourning. Write your own elegy. We'll be loose with the form. Sing an elegy to someone, some thing, a lost time or opportunity - elegies were meant to heal and praise.
(The elegy, a type of lyric poem, is usually a formal lament for someone's death. The term elegy is sometimes used in a broader sense as a lament for something lost. In antiquity it referred to anything written in elegiac meter, which consisted of alternating lines of pentameter and hexameter. Some classic elegies to look at: Thomas Gray - "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" Shelley - "Adonais" Whitman - "When Lilacs Last in the Door yard Bloomed" Rainer Maria Rilke - "Duino Elegies" Federico Garcia Lorca - "Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias" )


* the following 2 poems come from teachers writing from the experience of losing a student.

The Hole

When a student dies
there should be
a hole
in your class.
Do not rush to fill it.
Do not move the seats forward.
Leave the hole uncovered
for all to see.
Assign your students
to stand at its edge
and read into it.
Let them feel its edge.
But keep a hand near.

  Kenneth Ronkowitz


A Student Passes
For Marva
In Her Memory
In Her Presence

We speak of Marva
AS IS

No past tense with her.
No past tense here.

No. She is now
and forever will be
with us:

her beads
her hearty laugh
her generous good will

her dance
her jewelry

her stories (almost always
of mischief)

her brave daughter

We close our eyes and see her
now:
Big Brash Beautiful
Bounty all over and within her
outside of her -- radiating out
then
in her, in us
honest
almost brazen

Then -- her hearty laugh
winking in conspiracies of fun

sisterhood
brotherhood

an elder and a child
a child
a mother
a grandmother

The maker of jokes
the butt of a few

always knowing better
and anticipating friendship

a friend with the purpose of
friendship

more friendship
and more

And why not?
Dance
Laugh
Together

Marva!
Marvelous Lakota. . .

with us
now
and forever.

Thank you for living with us well.

 

Brad Bowles


Silk

The silk spreads the ivory skin,
with each slight gust,
she waves her satin goodbyes.
In the humidity of the night,
clinging tight to her breast,
a new layer
as soft as that which remains
hidden beneath--
fingers slide
across her smooth back,
knowing that she is slipping
and fading
just as fast
as she came,
never telling
who you will love,
and who you will lose.

Steven Reed


Behind The Veil

Heaven where she stays
hold me from your knowing light,
surrounded by darkness as I write.

When summer had all but passed,
I returned to where I first awakened
to you, and found you coldly taken,
and the spring before had been your last.

Deceptive gardener who prunes the bud
in spring to make the stronger bloom
has cut in haste -
the whole tree withers.

Careful - when you place your trust
and sleep beneath that perfumed tree
and evening comes and you awake
to find your pillow, not down, but dust.

Mine is an empty sound
that falls on only my own ears.
Curse my tears
on this barren ground.

Lianna Wright


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