Meditative lyric poem. The classical elegy was any poem written in elegiac metre (alternating lines of dactylic hexameter and pentameter). Today the term may refer to this metre rather than to content, but in English literature since the 16th century it has meant a lament in any metre. A distinct variety with a formal pattern is the pastoral elegy, such as John Milton's “Lycidas” (1638). Poets of the 18th-century Graveyard School reflected on death and immortality in elegies, most famously Thomas Gray's “An Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard” (1751).

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on elegy, visit Britannica.com.

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