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Poetry Guide: Lament

A lament or dirge is a song or poem expressing grief or regret. Many of the oldest and most lasting poems in human history have been laments. Laments are present in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, in the Hindu Vedas, and in ancient Near Eastern religious texts, including the Mesopotamian city laments such as the Lament for Ur and the Jewish Tanakh (or Old Testament).

In the traditional music of Scotland, a lament is also a genre of musical composition for the bagpipes. In Scots Gaelic, these pieces are often called piobaireachd or pibroch (an Anglicised spelling representing the pronunciation). In form, these slow pieces are a theme and variations, beginning with a slow air (called the urlar) which is played with variations and embellishments; the simple melody returns to finish the piece. These pieces are usually named after a person; traditionally, the person for whom they were composed was a warrior slain in battle.

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