Elegy Poetry Lesson

This poem is a good example of an elegy; it mourns a death. This of course is a sad subject, but it shows that the poet realizes this is the life cycle and he will be able to visit his friend long after his death. Remember that poetry can help us remember , capture, and celebrate what matters to us, and the poem will last to remind ourselves and others for eternity.


Please listen as I read the poem.

Now take out your pencils, reread the poem to yourself  and mark the following features by underlining and writing in the margin.

  • Underline five words in the poem that tells the reader indirectly that the deceased friend is a dog.
  • Notice that the voice is an I speaking to a you.
  • The author uses vignettes: little stories that show Ben and Buster in action and suggest what their relationship was like. Circle one of these.
  • Find two examples of sensory language; appeals to sight, hearing, taste, touch, feelings. Put a square around them.
  • Mark three of your favorite lines
  • Notice the evocative things in the final stanza; Tell a partner how you feel after you read them. (the field, the dog's bed, the piano, the dandelions, and the grave.
  • Which words affected you the deepest?
  • What part is the saddest for you?
  • What is a Johnny-jump-up?
  • What part shows the most love between the two?
  • Why is You capitalized?
  • What was the man doing in the first stanza? Where is the dog?
  • Write your own elegy of a lost pet or even a person that you remember fondly. Remember to use sensory images and figurative language.





Based on Nancie Atwell's lesson plan.

Remembrance of a Friend

My sight is blurred by tears

as we walk to the field.

I wish you were beside me,

your paws padding the ground,

your pink tongue tasting the air.


Your life was long.

You, who babysat me

when I was nine months old,

watching me bounce

in my johnny-jump-up,

only your eyes moving

as you pretended not to notice

when I landed on your snout.


You, who Dad lifted

and plopped on the sled

so you could slide down

the driveway with me,

my hands burrowed

in black fur,

your ears drawn back

by the icy wind.


You, my dog Buster,

who will be buried in the field

along with your bed that lived

under the piano,

so in the springtime

dandelions will grow

over your grave.


-Benjamin F. Williams