Trying to understand the elegy aspect of “In Memory of W. B. Yeats”

When I read In Memory of W. B. Yeats, I did not necessarily stop in my tracks while reading it, but it did catch my attention. The poem, an elegy, was something I expected to be like an obituary since they are both written forms. I expected the elegy to discuss the accomplishments of the person who recently passed away, but I felt as if along with the accomplishments, In Memory of W. B. Yeats also discussed things that were not ideal about him such as including that his gift survived rich women, physical decay, and himself. Those words almost make it sound like he was self-destructive and that it was a surprise that his gift of poetry survived it. Now that I think about it, I can see why the elegy includes things that are not always ideal about the person who passed away. I have always felt that poetry took writing to another dimension in terms of emotions, so that makes sense why it would include things that are not always ideal.

I believe one of the best ways to read an elegy would be to read a biography about the person and read about their life. That way, when you read the elegy, you can make connections to what is mentioned in the elegy to things that happened in their life. This would give the reader a better understanding of what is being written. If someone has no idea whom the person the elegy is written about is, then reading and understanding it will be difficult.

One comment

  • Very astute, Krishma! I like the way you compare the genre of the elegy to that of the obituary, and think of the similarities and differences between the two.

Leave a Reply