The Funeral Elegy in Early Modern Britain

Lorna Clymer

in The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199228133
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

The Funeral Elegy in Early Modern Britain

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)



This article explores the funeral elegy in early modern British literary history with an emphasis on the mid-seventeenth to the mid-eighteenth centuries. It also reports that the English funeral elegy often evoked the religious sublime by attending to three related concerns: lament, praise, and consolation. Examples of funeral elegy are presented, which range from an occasional, partisan, and anonymous Restoration broadside on the death of a public figure; to two poignant early eighteenth-century lyrics by women on the death of infants, miniature in focus; and finally to the most extended funeral elegy of the early modern period, a vast mid-century Christian apologetic. The history of the early modern British funeral elegy vividly shows some of the complexities and paradoxes involved in making art out of mortality created from perplexing issues raised by the traumatic, often grotesque subjects of death, decay, separation, and change.

Keywords: English funeral elegy; British literary history; lament; praise; consolation; mortality; death; decay; separation; change

Article.  8018 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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