A New Year dawns and some of us have already tossed the past behind, hoping for a better future in 2016. Perhaps we have lost a loved one, a job, still mourning a broken relationship or even disappointed our goals were not met. Some may be sad their team didn’t make it into the playoffs, while others could be still suffering the side effects of breaking a bad habit. Whatever you left behind in 2015…use it as incentive to write an elegy.
Most notably described as a song of sorrow, the elegy is not always defined by lamenting about the dead. It can have three stages pertaining to the loss: an expression of grief, praising the one you lost, and finding solace in the pain. So one can write about a moment, an object; anything in your past that has caused some suffering.
Jacqueline Woodson often tackles topics like poverty, child abuse, and drug addiction, in her children’s books and young adult novels. She believes young people are able to overcome any situation because they are still so resilient, and so she touches on realistic stories hoping to reach out to those who may need it. The novel Beneath a Meth Moon, she considers to be an elegy because of a young girl’s journey through Hurricane Katrina, losing her family, and getting addicted to meth. Laurel is able to conquer these devastating events and survive, and so the entire story is one full of sorrow but ends with hope.
Walt Whitman’s infamous poem “Oh Captain! My Captain!” was inspired by the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. It is a three stanza elegy beautifully expressing a sailor lamenting over his Captain’s death. The captain of course, is a metaphor for Abraham Lincoln, and “fearful trip” representing the Civil War. The celebration in the poem is the victory of our nation, and the deck of the ship where the captain lies is the United States. The poem reflects the respect and admiration Whitman had for the president and it would become his most famous piece of poetry.
Before you put 2015 behind you, perhaps take a few moments to dwell on the events that tarnished the year. Compare the burden of debt to a shackled prisoner revoked of his freedom forever. If you are living with physical pain, write about the loss of having a normal life without it. Use the death of a family pet to help cope with the grief. Writing an elegy could be the therapy you need to make a fresh start and step into the present with optimism.
Written by: Donna J. Sanders
Donna is a freelance writer and blogger in West Palm Beach, FL. She is the author of Ataraxia – a poetry collection about the struggles we face, the state of the world and how to see beauty in the simplest things, and Cardboard Signs – poems to bring awareness about homelessness, mental illness, self-esteem and the injustices many face.
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Photo Credit: © Donna J. Sanders
Categories: Creative Talents Unleashed