An elegy is a song of sorrow or mourning–often for someone who has died. But, since poets exercise license, they can also write elegies for the ends of things: a life, a love affair, a great year or era, a sports season, camping trip, conversations, etc.

This “form” is more about content, since there is no specific pattern, scheme or meter.



Oh, how you have grown silent,
and your smile less bright. I sit here
listening for the sound of you tonight
but you do not answer. Shall I sit here longer?

Darkness has befallen you, your shadow
is misty mem’ry, you have left me
far too long ago. My mind knows
you have departed, but my heart is numb,

it has gone dumb and unbelieving.
I will be leaving you in peace someday,
the way it must so be. And yet,
I get the urge to repeat this dirge at each sight

of your name ingrained in granite and stone.
I am alone where I sit and I sense a hand,
gentility and frigidity are its markers. Starkness
of reality is what I must face. This place of night

persistent and eternal, this infernal field
where death rests. My chest tightens
and my heart seizes as it releases you,
a memory true and loyal, spoiled

by your sad circumstance. No macabre dance
can placate my soul. This evening has control
of all my senses. Within these iron fences, I sit
my own shadow in this endless night. My fright

is that we will head in different directions;
with me going not where my angel is allowed.
Covered by this shroud of my indiscretions,
errors and terrors inflicted upon my honor.

I am hidden in this forbidden place. My face
in remorseful charade shielded by the mask
I assume. I resume my lament, I curse your cancer.
You do not answer. Shall I sit here longer?

(C) Copyright Walter J Wojtanik – 2014


Written as a response to Thomas Gray‘s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1750).


57 thoughts on “INFORM POETS – ELEGY

  1. This is an elegy with a twist. Something I wrote a couple years back. (I’m going to be out all day tomorrow and may not get a chance to write something new)


    It lay there in a heap
    Blood oozing from the cracks
    In the many layers of filth
    That covered its greatness
    The many layers of filth
    Heaped on by its enemies
    Layer after filthy layer
    Smothering its glory

    I put my ear to the pile
    And listened intently for life
    Any sign of life at all
    Any sound that emanates
    Any movement, warmth, or cry
    I listened intently for signs
    Plugged my other ear
    And listened
    And listened
    And then…..
    There it was

    Faint and seemingly dying
    Ba-bump……… Ba-bump……..
    Ba-bump……… Ba-bump……..
    It was still alive under that heap
    Ba-bump……… Ba-bump……..
    Ba-bump……… Ba-bump……..
    Fighting for its own survival
    Ba-bump……… Ba-bump……..
    Ba-bump……… Ba-bump……..
    Readied for a great revival
    Ba-bump……… Ba-bump……..
    Ba-bump……… Ba-bump……..

    So I jumped to my feet
    And went into action
    Pulling layer after layer of filth
    From the heap we all had built
    The heap of lies and deceit
    Thoughtlessness and selfish ambitions
    The garbage of unrighteous endeavors
    Bags of evil human inhumanness
    All piled on through twisted laws
    Bought and paid for by Satan himself

    The heap grew smaller as I dug
    I paused to listen once again
    Once again I heard the beat

    Louder this time, and a bit faster
    Ba-bump… Ba-bump… Ba-bump…
    Ba-bump… Ba-bump… Ba-bump…
    I think it sensed my efforts
    Ba-bump… Ba-bump… Ba-bump…
    Ba-bump… Ba-bump… Ba-bump…
    It knew my intent was honest
    Ba-bump… Ba-bump… Ba-bump…
    Ba-bump… Ba-bump… Ba-bump…

    But the heap of filth was massive
    My strength was waning under the strain
    I began do doubt my resolve
    Could I clean up this mess alone
    Maybe not
    But I would rather die trying
    Than live knowing I did nothing

    So I dug, pulled, pushed, and threw
    Layer after layer of filth from the heap
    Sweat dripped from my brow
    Blood oozed from my swollen hands
    Then somewhere in my endeavor
    I lost all sense of time and feelings
    Fell into a state of euphoric madness
    In a frenzied rage, I passed out

    Awakened by the noise of
    Frantic laborers all around me
    Digging, pulling, pushing, and throwing
    Layer after layer of filth from the heap
    Sweat dripping from their brows
    Blood oozing from their swollen hands
    Joining me in my once hopeless endeavor
    I jumped again to my feet
    And joined them in their action
    Once again hitting a rapid rhythm
    No longer alone
    No longer wondering
    If what I had started would fail

    It would not
    We would succeed
    The heap would be removed
    And she would live again
    She would be great again
    Once again she would be
    As she had for so many years
    The example of liberty
    The light of the world
    The land of the free
    And the home of the brave


    The Heart of America beats on
    I am the Heart of America

    © Earl Parsons 2011

  2. Walt, your work is so moving, commenting seems superfluous. It truly transmits emotion, most of it raw. One phrase in particular stands out for me: “your name ingrained in granite and stone.” Thanks for this.


    Normandie was beauty at sea:
    a ship of light, designed to be
    a transatlantic tram, it’s true,
    but one of lissome line that flew
    across the ocean gracefully.

    She flourished in serenity,
    but wartime sang its threnody:
    she burned, capsized, and so was through;

    became another forlorn plea,
    a haunting bit of memory
    of times when ocean liners knew
    the sea was theirs. Her visage grew
    with passing years; she calls to me:

    copyright 2014, William Preston

  4. From Down Deep

    I hold within my withered breast
    compounded grief
    which will not rest.

    Haunted by memories
    which will not fade,
    I feel waylaid.

    My life in limbo,
    neither here nor there,
    my soul laid bare.

    Tears fall down my aging cheeks
    watering those parchment peaks
    but nothing grows.

    I’ve withered to almost dust
    but still Death will not grasp my hand
    even though I’m sure he must.

    I do not wish to be here
    but my life strings are controlled
    by a master puppeteer.

    I brush the dust
    and the parchment cracks.
    It’s time, I must…

    like a phoenix
    I start to rise,
    my living now the prize.

    The shackles loosen just a bit
    enough to restore
    my senses, my wit.

    Oh, the journey’s not over,
    my grief is still here
    but the edges start to disappear.


    Each year when the summer begins to fade,
    the sadness returns and flashbacks run wild.
    I stopped viewing life through eyes of a child,
    innocence sliced by a double-edged blade.

    Still I am haunted by losing them both
    so close together, in only two weeks.
    But when they are needed, each of them speaks,
    telling me love is a forever oath.

    With summer’s farewell, the autumn is met
    bringing me days when I feel less bereft.
    My wounds will heal from the memories left
    of two loving parents I won’t forget.

    © Susan Schoeffield

  6. Pingback: When The End Of August Comes | Words With Sooze


    I raise a glass to celebrate a friend
    Once vibrantly alive, now fast asleep
    And free of life’s dolors, the grave an end
    To a body cancer ravished, now deep
    Below the soil where neither the rain
    Nor winter snow can threaten his repose.
    And yet, so rarely did my friend complain!
    He held on. “Will I live? Only God knows.”
    I remember Steve from those younger times
    When we were poet members of Triad
    And monthly met at Margaret’s home with rhymes
    To dance a poem around the room. How glad
    Back then to think the joys would see us through.
    Yet here I stand mourning a friend I knew.


  8. The Woodville Mall

    The Woodville Mall is being demolished
    All that glamour and glitter sinking back
    Into the earth that was there long before
    Man with his foolish ideas of making a profit

    Paid some farmers a large sum of money
    For their fields which grew corn and soybeans.
    It was the city of Toledo that still believed
    It was growing and reached ever outwards for space

    To plant the beautiful new structures that would
    replace the outworn and once grand stores of
    downtown that stood empty and neglected. The
    new consumers raced to fill the fields of suburbia

    with highways and homes that spread over
    the land like an epidemic of prosperity. Alas,
    over all the world loomed a shortage of oil. Too
    soon the rural malls stood empty and deserted.

    Sometimes it seems like a dream that this field
    of soybeans spreading its leaves in the sunlight
    Once supported three giant department stores. I can
    Remember when my children and I sat sipping

    Orange Julius’s while all around us the music
    of Christmas echoed the ringing of cash registers
    as busy shoppers hurried from store to store..
    Outside the walls, snowflakes bunched and flew

    over the rows of parked cars soon coated
    with white. We who were warm and cozy welcomed
    the frosty white that still arrives in the winters. Now
    it hides the ruined remains of man’s incredible reach
    to cover the earth with commerce.

      • Marian, I knew this mall well. We moved to the Toledo area from the eastern side of the state when my first-born was only 2 weeks old. When I would get “blue,” i’d pack up my little Deanna and walk through the Woodville Mall with her (we lived in Oregon at the time, and it was handy). Elderly ladies and young girls would smile and coo and tell me how beautiful my baby was. It lifted my spirits.

        Now Southwyk is gone as well. Instead of renovating and keeping up with times, they tore down more cornfields (and, if I am correct, trampled sacred Indian ground) to put up yet another monstrosity that is looking pale and sickly and as though it will not “make it” either. I don’t know when folks will learn.

        Thank you for this piece. Well done, and I see it received a well-deserved “bloom.”

  9. What Could Have Been

    We dreamed of traveling around the world
    For all the years of labor we put in
    A few more months and then we would begin

    We raised our kids, with love, as life unfurled
    We, hand in hand, survived through thick and thin
    We dreamed of traveling around the world
    For all the years of labor we put in

    But with your sudden death our dreams were hurled
    I’m feeling like a stranger in my skin
    And now I think about what could have been
    We dreamed of traveling around the world
    For all the years of labor we put in
    A few more months and then we would begin

    (This would be from my sister’s pov She lost her husband about 2 1/2 years ago )

  10. Pingback: For Sunshine and Summer with Love | Metaphors and Smiles

  11. For Sunshine and Summer with Love

    An abundant day coming to a close is cause for a twinge of remorse.
    How, I ask, can tomorrow ever live up to the splendor
    the wow of this cycle round the sun?

    I bid goodbye to that perfect early rising,
    time carved out of the silver slivers of insomnia
    set apart for a candle, a book and a prayer – quiet.

    I wave farewell to the gathering of many counted steps
    the four-legged one and me with my two blessed legs
    pushing through fresh morning air with breath in our lungs.

    I pause in fond memory for the pond-top-moment
    paddling softly in a lemon-drop yellow kayak
    discovering anew the language that nature so fluently speaks.

    I bow my head in awe and honor to the great-gray heron
    standing in tall marsh reeds where he feeds expertly
    and flying with wide expanse of feathered wing pushing wind.

    For the lone osprey, the family of seven brown wood ducks,
    for the painted turtle, innumerable insects and fauna of the pond
    I shed a tear for each of you in gratitude for your presence today.

    Lily white with face so ungazeable- bright mirrored in the surface of water
    I’m moved by your fine lines and the points of your petal angles
    you’re the epitome of beauty unfolding – a summer story in the making.
    For pen pressed to page – blood let to run thick and poetic
    I sing a song from the depths of my soul of sorrowful-happy
    I’m blessed by the very action of words to describe the source of my joy.

    An abundant day coming to a close is cause for a twinge of remorse.
    How, I ask, can tomorrow ever live up to the splendor
    the wow of this cycle round the sun?

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014

  12. My Elegy
    Someday I’ll melt in rainbows
    beyond the mist of skies
    into the stars that you can’t see
    if you look with your eyes-
    Don’t look for me in all my things
    you will not find me there
    but feel me in the wind of links
    And almost– everywhere!!

  13. To a Sweetie

    Patient, plodding, ready in a jiff
    for a stroll about the neighborhood.
    Some would think you sad, the color
    of your eyes ever bloodshot, as if
    you had been out drinking all night.

    A rescued Bassett Hound, of white
    and brown. We named you Walter.
    How you loved to be petted.
    You purred when you ate–
    sometimes lying down.

    How your eyes would sweep up
    and nod at the leash
    hanging by the front door.
    Even though I swore sometimes
    when you’d shake you head,

    and send spit flying on to
    walls and television,
    I could never truly
    be angry with you.

    When the kids next door
    dressed you up for Christmas
    with those ridiculous antlers,
    you bore it all with rolling eyes.

    I am so sorry that you died young;
    I guess your heart was too large
    not to break.

  14. Ophelia and I

    Ophelia and I
    little girls running
    beside the stream,
    wildflowers waiting to bloom;
    we whispered about boys
    and that intangible someday;
    too young to steady our pace,
    arms open wide,
    too shortsighted to see
    the marathon length before us
    we sprinted until
    we tumbled down winded;
    the verdant shores
    remember those little girls
    wild and free;
    before she succumbed
    to her watery grave
    and I fell victim
    to the ennui of life;
    but when I dream
    I feel her hand in mine,
    feel the wind whipping my hair;
    the sweet joy
    of friendship and youth
    found with Ophelia
    by the summer stream.

  15. (Note: Emahay–EE-mah-hay. Emahayati–ee-mah-hay-ah-TEE)


    Our private language of love

    Dandelion sunshine and banshee on the loose
    Birthday banners and loud outbursts
    Brushing hair and muscle rubs

    Empty aching arms
    Bitter herbs lingering on my tongue
    Deaf to the barren silence

    Emahay, I love you
    Emahayati, I love you too
    Emahay, goodbye

  16. Ok, it’s Saturday morning but my computer went out on Wednesday until now.

    So, here is an elegy about my daughter. . .Note: Emahayati is pronounced EE-mah-hay-ah-tee


    Our private language of love

    Dandelion sunshine and banshee on the loose
    Birthday banners and angry outbursts
    Brushing hair and muscle rubs

    Empty arms aching
    Bitter herbs lingering on my tongue
    Deaf to the barren silence

    Emahay, I love you
    Emahayati, I love you too
    Emahay, goodbye

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