An elegy is an extended meditative poem in which the speaker reflects on death— often in tribute to a person who has died recently—or on an equally serious subject. Most elegies are written in formal, dignified language and are serious in mood and tone. Consider these lines from Gray’s poem, which describe a cemetery:
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew tree’s shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a moldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.