Elegy vs. Dirge

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Elegy and Dirge is that the Elegy is a literary genre and Dirge is a song that expresses lament or grief.

  • Elegy

    In English literature, an elegy is a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead. The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy notes:

    For all of its pervasiveness, however, the ‘elegy’ remains remarkably ill-defined: sometimes used as a catch-all to denominate texts of a somber or pessimistic tone, sometimes as a marker for textual monumentalizing, and sometimes strictly as a sign of a lament for the dead.

  • Dirge

    A dirge is a somber song or lament expressing mourning or grief, such as would be appropriate for performance at a funeral. The English word dirge is derived from the Latin Dirige, Domine, Deus meus, in conspectu tuo viam meam (“Direct my way in your sight, O Lord my God”), the first words of the first antiphon in the Matins of the Office for the Dead, created on basis of Psalms 5:8 (5:9 in Vulgate). The original meaning of dirge in English referred to this office.

    A Christian funeral lament from the Cleveland area of north-east Yorkshire is known as the Lyke Wake Dirge. It’s associated with the Lyke Wake Walk, a 40-mile challenge walk across the moorlands of north-east Yorkshire, as the members’ anthem of the Lyke Wake Club, a society whose members are those who have completed the walk within 24 hours.

  • Elegy (noun)

    A mournful or plaintive poem; a funeral song; a poem of lamentation. from early 16th c.

  • Elegy (noun)

    A composition of mournful character.

  • Dirge (noun)

    A mournful poem or piece of music composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person.

  • Dirge (noun)

    A song or piece of music that is considered too slow, bland or boring.

  • Dirge (verb)

    To sing dirges

  • Dirge (noun)

    a lament for the dead, especially one forming part of a funeral rite.

  • Dirge (noun)

    a mournful song, piece of music, or sound

    “singers chanted dirges”

    “the wind howled dirges around the chimney”

  • Dirge (noun)

    a song or piece of music that is considered too slow, miserable, or boring

    “after his ten-minute dirge, the audience booed”

Oxford Dictionary

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