I have written a long elegy in rhyming scheme. It has many subjects. How can I introduce characters (subjects in elegy) in detail to readers, before they start reading elegy? Are there conventions for doing this with elegies, like using a prologue? (And if so, what form should it take?) Please tell me what suits an elegy when you have to introduce characters in advance.

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    This question is being discussed on meta. – Monica Cellio Sep 7 '17 at 1:29
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    Answer given as comment, as the question is closed: The common format for annotations to a poem is a brief prose text between poem title and poem or at the end of the poem. Common examples from existing literary works include dedications ("for Mirza") and dates and places of composition ("Rome, September 8, 2017"). But it is rare that poets add explanations to poems. Poems usually refer to knowledge that author and target audience share. When Tennyson speaks of his "lover", his friends and fellow artists know who he means. And a good poem is meaningful even without this detail knowledge. – user26338 Sep 8 '17 at 10:02

Do you have to do it in advance? It would seem kind of awkward if you need to introduce them first so we know the characters. Elegies are basically poetic funeral speeches.

You wouldn't walk into a funeral and start out by saying this is bob, let me first introduce bob to you guys so you understand my speech.

It just... doesn't work so much that way. My advice would be to write it in a way that we don't need to know their name, their relationships, their hobbies. This isn't a story in a typical novel fashion, but rather a deep, reflective, somber poem about their life, love, and loss.

We may not know who a character named bob is in the start of the poem, but by time it finishes, we should have a deep understanding of their life and what they were about.

Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray provides us with a long passage. Arguably one of the most famous Elegies written. We never find out the subject's name (referred to as me so we might assume Thomas Gray could be referencing himself). We don't have any back story to the character in the piece. We just know he is describing feelings and observations of his surrounding.

While Elegies have various forms they are written in, adding a prologue before hand does not seem to fit the nature of an elegy according to my research. I would spend some time reading various elegies to get a good understanding of how they are done. None that I read provided any prologue or character introduction, they just went right into it.

One Elegy I read started out with the person's name and went right into his life. I still don't know much about that person's character but I do know they loved to travel the world.

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