English 9 Enriched: Elegies of The Odyssey

In a effort to continue with learning about lyric poetry, the students wrote elegies for characters in The Odyssey.

Your Task:  Write an elegy to one of the characters from Homer’s The Odyssey.  Remember that an elegy, like an ode, has no set stanza structure or rhyme scheme, but elegies ARE usually meant to be set to music.  That means that there must be some kind of rhythm to the poem.

You may choose your structure (quatrains, cinquains, etc…) and you may choose to have a rhyme scheme.  Things to keep in mind about elegies:

  • Although they have no set structure, elegies do contain three sections that address the three stages of grief:

The Lament

The Praise (ode-ish)

The Consolation

  • The elegy most often does not give the person’s name in the poem… it is usually found in the title.
  • The poem most often characterizes the person being elegized.
  • You must have either: a) a number of stanzas divisible by three for each of the stages of loss (see “Oh Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman), or b) three separate sections, each for the stages of loss (see “Elegy to W. B. Yeats” by W.H. Auden)

Student Examples 

“Elegy to Argos”  by Phoebe H.

I’m sorry, my dear companion!

For years you had no care.

Left in alone in manure with fleas in your hair,

Unfed, undeserving, tired and old

Unlike the companion I left long ago.

But now, companion, you’ve died of grief

Did you know? I’m sorry I could not greet you.

Just as my eyes met yours,

A final, last look,

And you’ve closed your eyes.

A final, last look,

I’ve said my goodbyes.

I remember, my dear ally!

You loved to run around.

Battle scars, memories, ever since you were young.

The best tracker, so quick and strong!

You followed me and never went wrong.

As others praised me, I would praise you.

Faithful, old friend, you knew me at once!

Forever my loyal ally,

You’d follow me,

To the ends of the earth.

You’d follow me,

Till your spirit fled earth.

Move on, my dear comrade!

The troubles are no more.

The careless maids and the haughty suitors,

Their lives were reaped, and set to roam.

Peace has now returned to our home.

You would have fought by my side.

We still will share the victory.

Let your spirit run free!

Rest in the afterlife,

You’ll be remembered.

Rest in the afterlife,

At peace, forever.

__________________________________________________________

“Elegy to Agamemnon” by Jaime L.

A marriage should be filled with love, happiness, and compassion

And trust, above all, of any fashion

But instead, his was not meant to be

As the tale is here for all to see

A great victory beheld our lives in times of great sorrow

The men all eager to return home by tomorrow

But out great leader returns to doom

For his unfaithful wife has been wooed

Our great leader is dead, struck down by the lover of his unfaithful wife

No breath stirs his chest, his soul fleeing to the afterlife

A great warrior was he!

Fighting to the end, seeing the oncoming victory!

Aiding King Menelaus, his loving brother

He fought to end the war brought upon by the beautiful Helen’s lover

How strong was he, the great king of Argos!

But bear in mind

His great soul is fine

As it travels to Elysium

That great hero had done great deeds in life

A pity, for what happened with his wife

Though he will soon settle in an Eden

He was brave, cunning, and smart

And will live forever in our beating hearts

All right from the start.

____________________________________________________________

“Elegy to Elpenor” by Trevor C.

For your death Princely Odysseus best accept the blame

As he unleashed Poseidon’s wrath that upon the crew trouble would rain

We know that you took the fall for Odysseus being big-headed

When we heard that the crew was to die, the journey home became dreaded

I will always mourn your powerful presence

But I hope the underworld will be for you, a great residence

You can be assured that you didn’t deserve this wicked plummet

Knowing that this could have been avoided makes me sick to my stomach

You were a loyal one to the crew as could be seen in your brotherly gaze

How were you to know your fate after being awoken and all a-dazed

The crew didn’t know what they had until they lost you, a major part of the crew’s puzzle

Why they tried to leave Circe’s island without you makes me befuddled

You were always a companion, a truly loyal fellow

But you had to fall to a death that was anything but mellow

We hope you rest easy, after all you have been selfless

But the death was partly your fault, no one is totally flawless

After your death, carrying on will be very hard to manage

We can try to push past all our emotional damage

Your crew will never be the same again, on them your personality was impressed

On the subject of your death the crew may also have to digress

Your family will eventually heal after being in total despair

Don’t feel grief about dying young, I know it may be unfair

Your body was treated and buried with great pride

As for the sea-god Poseidon, we all now greatly despise.

_________________________________________________________

“Elegy to Anticlea” by Ryan H.

O Anticlea, beloved mother of mine

My heart swelled, dropped deep in decline

As I witnessed your being, unwhole

Dwelling in the land of dead souls

O what a terrible, unpleasant surprise

For still inside, my forsaken heart cries

For you, I  attempt so desperately to embrace

Yet, to no avail, I am without solace

Learning of your honorable demise, my morale upped

No matter that your demise was so abrupt

The fact that you perished of grief for me

Only heightens your unmitigated legacy

You were a providing, nurturing, and loving mother

In these traits you showed, you would never falter

You lived your life with honor and respect

Now that you’re gone, I must reflect

O father of mine, great Laertes

Hear me now, O hear me please

Do not grieve for too long

To do so would be so wrong

As our departed member would persist against it

Of that her humble soul would not permit

She would want us to be our boldest

And live our lives to their fullest

__________________________________________________________

“Elegy to Achilles” by Alessandra P.

Our hearts are heavy

For we lost a great hero

All Achaeans mourn for you

You left us miserable and abandoned

The sky is now gray

The days are now dark

Now that you are gone we lost all hope

You led us through the battle of troy

You brought us victory and hope

You were brave and determined

You were a loyal friend

A fearless man and a strong leader

You were the greatest Greek warrior

and lived an honorable life

We know that you legacy will live on

What you did while alive will overcome your death

For not even death can conquer the hero that will live on forever

For you have given us the best of you

We are honored to have experienced what you had to offer

The hero that lived in you will spark the hero in all of us from generation to generation

It is time to lay down your sword and rest in peace

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Filed under Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 3: Instruction, English 9 Enriched

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