Alexander Pope: Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady

(1441 words)

Pope wrote the Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady in early 1717. It was first published in his collected Works, which came out in June of that year. The poem is Pope's attempt to demonstrate that he is “a man of feeling” by writing a heroic elegy in the style of Roman poets, such as Ovid. This convention involves expressions of high and lofty sentiment in response to a brave, or noble, death. Pope's poem is about a young woman who took her own life, apparently because her uncle barred her liaison with the man of her choice. The difficulty with the poem is that none of the specific circumstances leading to the unnamed lady's death are described, so that the reader is left to assume crucial details of the …

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Gordon, Ian. "Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 January 2002
[, accessed 02 July 2015.]