The modern elegy: a matter of life and death in poetry

At times of national and personal loss, we often turn to poetry to help us articulate our complex thoughts and feelings. Elegy, or poetry that expresses a sense of loss, has ancient origins but retains a ceremonial and cathartic role today, memorialising loved ones, provoking action or pondering the fragile vitality of life. This course explores the broad range of emotional and literary responses present in elegiac poetry over the twentieth and twenty-first century, from shock to humour, sadness to rebirth. In situating each poem in its diverse social and cultural context and analysing its key literary features, the focus of this course will be on literary discussion rather than therapeutic support for loss, but personal reflections provoked by the poems will also be welcome as we try to understand these matters of life and death.

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Key facts

  • Cost: £140
  • Credits: 0