A significant exception to the courtly aversion to print was the funeral elegy, which all poets, career and coterie, would permit to be published in honour of the recently deceased. The solemnity of the occasion, and the seemliness of publicly registering respect for the dead, evidently obviated any embarrassment the poet or his subject might have felt about appearing in print. That the many elegists who mourned Sidney or Prince Henry agreed to do so in print may also suggest an implicit recognition that the printed work was a fit memorial because not only could it be broadly distributed but also it stood a better chance of survival than the private manuscript. A published collection of elegies offered the poet an opportunity to be published in the company of his peers and betters, as would happen with commendatory verses, yet it also allowed the poet to influence with more seriousness than puffery how the subject might be remembered in posterity. Because it held out the possibility of enacting evaluative closure on the subject's writings, the elegy was the pre-eminent poetic genre for rhetorical consecration; this, despite the fact that the nature of elegizing required the poet to confront sentiments that would seem to detract from any thought of literary posterity — sentiments about temporality, mourning shading into self-mourning, the inadequacy of words in expressing loss, and the sense that poetic immortality, the supplementarity of writing beyond the writer's death, may not quite compensate for the fact of human mortality.
In the earliest significant literary elegies, such as Dunbar's "Lament for the Makaris," the making of a canon of dead poets seems only to