The New Oxford Dictionary defines elegy as a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead. Also a piece of music in a mournful style. In Greek and Roman poetry it is a poem written in elegiac couplets, as notably by Catallus and Propertius.
In Anne Carson’s book Vox (not so much a book as a very long accordian-folded printed paper in a box), which is an elegy for her brother, she says:
“1.0. I wanted to fill my elegy with light of all kinds. But death makes us stingy. There is nothing more to be expended on that, we think, he’s dead. Love cannot alter it. Words cannot add to it. No matter how I try to evoke the starry lad he was, it remains a plain, odd history. So I began to think about history.
1.1. History and elegy are akin. The word “history” comes from an ancient Greek verb ( ) meaning “to ask”.
… It is when you are asking about something that you realize you yourself have survived it, and so you must carry it, or fashion it into a thing that carries itself.”
I picked up The Way of the Sufi and found this from Jalaludin Rumi:
“What Shall I Be
I have again and again grown like grass;
I have experienced seven hundred and seventy moulds.
I died from minerality and became vegetable;
And from vegetativeness I died and became animal.
I died from animality and became man.
Then why fear disappearance through death?
Next time I shall die
Bringing forth wings and feathers like angels:
After that soaring higher than angels –
What you cannot imagine. I shall be that.”
For some time I’ve been looking for comfort in books and not finding it. Comfort is there – I wasn’t looking in the right place.
I miss Annette, who I loved. I want to fashion that love and sadness into something else. Something with wings.