Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
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Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
Form & Structure:
Thomas Gray's poem "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" is a well- structured poem with a set number of lines per stanza, and a specific rhyme scheme throughout the entire poem. The form of the poem is a very standard elegy, consisting of four line sta nzas and a rhyme scheme of ( a-b-a-b ) for each stanza, the first line rhymes with the third, and the second with the fourth. This abab pattern, at this time was associated with elegiac poetry. The last three stanzas are printed in italic type and given the title "The Epitaph."
The poem focuses on Gray's thoughts while he visits a country churchyard, and ends with an epitaph written on one of the tombstones in the churchyard. An elegy is a sad poem, usually written to express sorrow for someone who is dead. Although a speech at a funeral is a eulogy, you might later compose an elegy to someone you have loved and lost to the grave. The purpose of this kind of poem is to express feelings rather than tell a story.
Thomas Gray probably began "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" about 1746. S ome have speculated that the poem may have been occasioned by an actual death, perhaps that of Gray's friend Richard West in 1742.
Summary & Analysis
Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard is a meditation about death as the final estate of the human condition, regardless of wealth, position, or power. The first four stanzas present images of twilight settling over a solitary figure in a small country churchyard.
The curfew tolls the knells of parting day
The n, t he next four stanzas continue the theme of death as the end of all individuals by listing the activities the dead used to do but do "no more." The repetition of "no more" emphasizes the fact that all human activity leads to the grave.
The poet has established a dramatic point of view: The reader sees the world through the eyes of a single figure who sees the truth and sees the destiny of all. In the first three stanzas, Gray sets the scene for his private and quiet meditations. He is far from the city and looking out from a country churchyard at a rural scene, but the sights and sounds of this rural world of men and beasts fade away. Although the scene is beautiful, life is not joyous, and Gray reflects that this day dies just like the one before it, as the plowman walks wearily home.
The plowman homeward plods his weary way
The poet is alone, but he is not tired. The text gives a sense of the vitality of his solitude and of the stillness of the scene by describing the few things that remain to disturb it: the tinkling خشخشة الماشية of the cattle who have returned home, the drone of the beetle أزيز الخنفساء , and the sound of an owl fro m the church tower. This owl—a secret, solitary ruler over the churchyard since ancient times—strikes an ominous note and protests that the poet is challenging its reign. With these descriptions, Gray creates the backdrop خلفية for his melancholy reflections about eternal truths.
In the next four stanzas (lines 13 to 28), Gray uses the churchyard scene to invoke important images about death. The poet begins by reflecting that death for the humble and lower class means a cessation انقطاع of life's simple pleasures: waking up to the songs of birds, sharing life with a wife and children, and enjoying hard and productive work. Gray reflects not on the untimely death of young people but on the death that comes after a normal life span.
The cock's shrill clarion صياح صاخب , or the echoing horn
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
In the next four stanzas, the poet addresses the upper classes—those with ambition, grandeur, power, nobility, and pride—and exhorts يعظ them not to mock the poor for their simplicity or for not having elaborate statues on their graveyard memorials. He tells the living upper classes that ultimately it does
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