The poem," Thanatopsis", written by William Cullen Bryant is an excellent example of American poetry. This literary work explores the controversial question of death. Although "Thanatopsis" comes from the Greek and means "a view or contemplation of death", it can also be seen as a contemplation of nature. Within the lines Bryant compares the eternal question of death with the ongoing cycle of nature and life. Bryant makes the connection between God and nature through society, imagery, and trust. To understand why "Thanatopsis" is an elegy, you need to understand what an elegy is.
Webster defines elegy as a song or poem expressing sorrow of lamentation especially for one who is dead. Thanatopsis is a poem filled with metaphors of death. I feel that Bryant is expressing his sorrow for the inevitable. In many places throughout the poem he refers to death with other words, such as "slumber." There are examples of this use throughout the poem. The connections he uses between death and sleep give the work more depth and meaning. This poem shows changes in the writer and he begins to change his thoughts of death.
Bryant learns to embrace the ending (death) and sees it as a rebirth. He starts to believe in the afterlife and this is how the poem finds its way out of melancholy. By the last couplet of the poem, Bryant begins to make his religious point. He has excepted death for what he now understands it to be, which is a beginning.
The mood and tone of the poem both change in the last couplet. They change because he has reached the end of his journey, and now understands the question and believes in the afterlife.