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I need help with a poem?? Elegy for J.F.K. by W.H. AudenI know that this was turned...

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karlisandrum | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 7, 2010 at 4:01 AM via web

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I need help with a poem?? Elegy for J.F.K. by W.H. Auden

I know that this was turned into a song by Igor Stravinsky, but I'm referring to the actual poem written by W.H. Auden. It's an elegy for President John F. Kennedy.

Why then, why there,
Why thus, we cry, did he die?
The heavens are silent.

What he has, he was:
What he is fated to become
Depends on us

Remembering his death,
How we choose to live
Will decide its meaning.

When a just man dies,
Lamentation and praise,
Sorrow and joy, are one.

What are your opinions on this poem? What do you feel about it? I want your opinions and be sure to explain why!!!! Also, what do you think the meaning is? What is it saying?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 7, 2010 at 4:10 AM (Answer #1)

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To me, the meaning here is that the speaker is mourning the death of Pres. Kennedy.  He is asking God, presumably, why this was allowed to happen.

The middle two stanzas, I think, are saying that JFK's legacy will depend on what people do -- if it inspires people to do great things, then it was a meaningful death.  If not, maybe it wasn't.

I suppose that is why joy and praise are involved here -- because we celebrate his life and his legacy.

For me, this does not really make me think much because JFK was before my time and I don't think he was all that special as a president.

So all it really does for me is to show me how much some people in the '60s thought of JFK.

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