When poetry is written well, the reader is left feeling emotions so profoundly that words are often not enough to express the joy, love, sorrow, and pain that stays after turning the page. When moving through the poems in (the) Elegy, readers are taken on a journey into the author’s snapshot of life, one of darkness, despair, and brutal honesty. Each section in this collection has a unique feel, yet they flow together to tell a complete story. The themes of loss, suffering, and pain are felt from start to finish in this collection and will leave readers raw as they absorb the words that Derek King has given them.
Some of the poems focus on physical death, others on the emotional decline, and some on mental illness as the mind slowly dies, and the world watches from afar. Some of the hardest-hitting poems are the ones on the death of society and how as humans, we have let the modern and commercial world strip us piece by piece of the things that gave us life, and we welcome this self-destruction, not realizing that we are harming ourselves. For example, the poem ‘Dark Day In Glasgow’ shares a scene where people are frantically shopping and spending money on the holiday season, but a crime is committed, a nativity is vandalized, and baby Jesus has been replaced by a rolled-up bill of money. What a potent reminder of how humanity has lost the meaning of Christmas and the holiday season. This is only one example of the many situations that King gives his readers to remind them of how far humanity has drifted from actually being humane.
Each section of this collection starts with a haunting black-and-white image and foreshadows the sentiments about to be churned up through King’s words. I say churned because the poems move in a way that can and will cause the reader some discomfort. The honesty and directness, even in allegory, will leave readers contemplating the world around them and how they perceive it.
(the) Elegy is a gripping anthology of poetry that will take readers through war, depression, death, and self-realization. This is not a collection of love poetry or happy thoughts. Instead, it is primal and ruthless in its depiction of humanity and the direction we are headed. This is an eye-opening collection of poems that will give readers a pause and make them consider what they value in life and in themselves.
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