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Thomas Gray's Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard

1445 words - 6 pages

Sadhana Jacob
ENG 223
Professor Dhariwal
May 9th, 2014
Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” is significant in that it not only mourns the death of common men but also examines how they ought to be remembered after their death. The speaker does not create a separation between rich and poor but regards everyone as equal. His main goal is to depict the reality that everyone must die. This poem carries a moralistic side about human life. Gray points out that the rich and proud should not mock at the simple life of the poor when in reality they are just like them in that, they also have to die and leave all their wealth and luxuries behind. This poem is not boring and offensive but rather inspiring and motivating.
“Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” consists of a hundred and twenty eight lines separated into thirty two quatrains including an epitaph. Each of these quatrains is effectively composed, precise and to the point. The transition of words and thoughts from each stanza takes place in a smooth and organized fashion. The language and expressions are simple and without anything excessive and exaggerated. There is grace and meaning as he goes on in the stanzas. Lines 1-12 of the poem start in a churchyard with the speaker who is depicting his surroundings in detail. The speaker highlights both aural and visual descriptions as he observes the area relating to himself. For example, ‘curfew tolls’, ‘lowing herd’, ‘glimm’ring landscape’, ‘solemn stillness’, ‘drowsy tinklings’, ‘moping owl’ show the aural and visual descriptions The speaker uses to describe his surroundings. The speaker gives readers a sense of the solitary and still environment he is currently in. Lines 13 to 28 is where the speaker begins to reflect that the death for the lower class meant an end to the simple life of contentment such as waking up to the songs of birds, enjoying family life, and enjoying their work on the fields. Here, the speaker is somewhat portraying a type of death that is natural for a human being. Lines 29-44 is where he starts to reflect on the upper class and their way of mocking the simple life of the poor in addition to the way their graves were made. The speaker states that ultimately even the rich will die and it will be the same type of death as the poor. And hence there is no point how extravagant their gravestone is but all that matter is the life we lead. From lines 45-76 lies the main message the speaker wants to portray about the lower class. The poor are born with similar abilities as the upper class and they might have accomplished more in this world but due to their conditions, they were unable to flourish in their life time. The speaker recognizes that the poor were restrained from becoming well off. What the speaker means by this is that there is both a positive and negative side to poverty. If it robs a person of their chances to become well off, it also frees them from getting involved in anything that is immoral. They...

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