I have written an elegy, how to describe subjects in detail? asks about introducing characters who are referenced in an elegy. (The OP asks about writing a preface, though I suspect that's not the best solution.) The question was put on hold as too broad.

An elegy is a particular form; it's not as broad as, say, a novel:

In classical literature an elegy was simply any poem written in the elegiac metre (alternating lines of dactylic hexameter and pentameter) and was not restricted as to subject. Though some classical elegies were laments, many others were love poems. In some modern literatures, such as German, in which the classical elegiac metre has been adapted to the language, the term elegy refers to this metre, rather than to the poem’s content. Thus, Rainer Maria Rilke’s famous Duineser Elegien (Duino Elegies) are not laments; they deal with the poet’s search for spiritual values in an alien universe. But in English literature since the 16th century, an elegy has come to mean a poem of lamentation. It may be written in any metre the poet chooses.

While the article linked there says that some elegies follow no set pattern, the OP has at least written rhyming verse. (The post doesn't specify meter, which doesn't seem especially important for this particular question.)

Given an elegy that refers to other people (beyond the one being elegized), "how do I introduce these people so readers will understand the context?" seems like a pretty clear and focused question to me. What needs to change in this question for it to be reopened?

2 Answers 2


I think my feeling in voting to close was that while an elegy is a specific form, the question was about introducing characters in some other form before the elegy, and, other than questioning why you would want to do that at all, which the only current answer does, there is really no limit on the things that might be suggested. And since I don't believe there are any extant cases of people writing introductions to introduce characters in an elegy, there are not precedents to narrow the field.

  • Thanks for the feedback. My thinking (as somebody who doesn't know much about elegies) is that if this is a common problem in elegies then conventions for dealing with it must have evolved, and if it's not a common problem then answers from elegy experts can point that out and suggest other approaches. We don't want it to turn into a brainstorming question, though, and I see that concern now. Sep 7, 2017 at 14:36
  • I've made an edit to the question based on this discussion. Sep 8, 2017 at 15:09

I have voted to reopen. There is a common format for an author's annotations to their poem (which I have explained in a comment to the question). To me that question is on-topic and concise.

I always find it a good practice to refrain from voting on a question that I don't fully understand.

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