THE ELEGYWRITTEN IN ACOUNTRYCHURCHYARDThomas Gray
Born: December 26 , 1716 Birthplace: Died: July 30 , 1771 Location ofdeath: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire,England Remains: Buried, St. GilesChurchyard, StokePoges, Buckinghamshire, England Religion: Deist Sexual orientation: Gay
Early life fifth of 12 childrenthe only child of Philip andDorothy Gray to surviveinfancy.He lived with his motherafter she left his abusivefather.
Education educated at Eton College where his uncle wasone of the masters. a delicate and scholarly boy who spent histime reading and avoiding athletics three close friends at Eton: HoraceWalpole, son of the Prime Minister RobertWalpole; Thomas Ashton, and Richard West 1734 , went to Peterhouse,Cambridge Left without a degree Receipt of legacy from his paternal aunt meantthat he had no urgent need to find a job
Poetry 1745 (29) his friendship with Walpolewas renewed Walpole admired his poetry andpersuaded him to publish 1747 (31) – Ode on a Distant Prospect ofEton College, Ode on Spring , Ode onthe Death of a Favourite Cat , Drownedin a Tub of Goldfishes His ELEGY ON A COUNTRY CURCHYARDTOOK HIM 9 YEARS BEFORE IT WASPUBLISHED. FROM 1742 (26)- 1751 (35) 1757 – The Bard and the Progress ofPoesy Norton Nicholls – his love interest . Anundergraudate wose knowledge ofDante impressed him. 1751- Journey among te English Lakes 1768 (52) – Fatal Sisters, The Descent ofOdin and The Triumphs of Owen
Last Years• 1751 – He proposed to visitBonstetten in Switzerland duringthe summer but was struck by asudden illness and died after afew days• He was buried in St. Gileschurchyard in Stoke Poges nectto his mother
About the Poem 128 line poem It is about the subject of human mortality The speaker urges the reader to rememberhim for his human frailty , that he is indeedcommon with everyman poem invokes the classical idea of mementomori, a Latin phrase which states plainly to allmankind, "Remember that you must die.― in death, there is no difference between greatand common people. it idealizes and elevates the common man.
Summary It was an evening time. The poet is standing inthe church yard. The ringing of a curfew bell isheard. A herd of cattle from pasture startedreturning home. Farm workers, after hardwork, started going homes, indicating that theactivities of day time are drawing to a close.The poet is then left alone to contemplate theisolated rural scene. The poet sets amelancholy atmosphere by describing theringing of curfew bell in somber tone. Thecurfew bell does not simply ring; it "knells"—aterm usually applied to bells rang at a death orfuneral. From the very beginning, Gray remindsus of human mortality.
There is a tone of sincere melancholy throughout. Hestarted composing the verses of this poem by bringingbefore his mind`s eyes the Churchyard at Stock-Poges.The poem begins with the description of the ChurchYard at Stock-Poges towards sunset. He alone standsby the side of the graveyards. The curfew or theevening bell warning the people to retire to rest hastolled. The farmer is returning home after his day`swork. It is dark all around and the air itself is silent in asolemn manner without any breeze. The cattle aregoing homeward and none is to be seen except thepoet standing by the side off the graveyards. The wholeatmosphere is serene. Nothing is heard except thehooting of the owl and the drowning sound of thebeetle and tinkling of the bells of the herd in distantfolds in the village.
Even those noises arefeeble, showing that the beetleand Cattle are tired. There isindeed one sound which is not―drowsy‖. The sound of an owlhooting intrudes upon theevening quiet .The hooting of themoping Owl appears that itcomplains to the moon that thepoet is trying to destroy herancient solitary reign.
The hooting of Owl adds to thegloom, since it appears to becomplaining about persons that gonear her lonely living place. There isno companion for the poet at thattime except darkness. In such anatmosphere, the poet is found byhimself by the side of the churchyard. The melancholy atmosphere issuited to the poem.
ThemeIt mourns the death not of greatpeople but of common men andmeditates on the nature of humanmortality. That in death there is nodifference between great andcommon people if among the lowlypeople buried in the churchyardthere had been any natural poetsor politicians whose talent hadsimply never been discovered ornurtured
Elementsclassical elements use of alternately quatrains of iambicpentameters already present in Dryden use of abstract personifications(ambition, grandeur etc.) universality of themes(death, obscurity, contentment, etc.) idyllic view of country life excessive time required to polish eachstanza, thus excluding immediacy ofinspiration clear influence of poetic classics such asDante (opening lines); Lucrezius (stanza 6);Petrarch(ending)
Graveyard Poetry A type poetry presenting melancholic reflectionon morality, framed innarratives involving visits tograveyards and other reminders of death. One ofthemost celebrated examples of this type ofverse is Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in aCountryChurchyard. With its personal and introspectiveconcerns, such verse hasbeen seen as significantas part of a transitional phase between publiclyfocusedneoclassical verse and Romanticlyricism, but it is of interest not only as a stepping-stone in literary history. Involving a focus uponloss, and with extensive analyses offeelings, suchverse played a part in the wider culture ofsensibility.
Meter and Rhyme SchemeGray wrote the poemin four-line stanzas (quatrains)Each line is in iambicpentameter Each line has five pairs of syllables for a total often syllables In each pair, the first syllable is unstressed (orunaccented), and the second is stressed (oraccented), as in the two lines that open thepoem:.......The CUR few TOLLS the KNELL of PARTing DAY.......The LOW ing HERD wind SLOWly OERthe LEA .......In each stanza, the first line rhymeswith the third and the second line rhymes withthe fourth (abab), as follows
The speaker uses sad diction and symbolssuch asowl, death, grave, sleep also, the owlsymbolizes death. The setting The time is themid 1700s, about a decade before theIndustrial Revolutionbegan in England. Theplace is the cemetery of a church. Evidenceindicates thatthe church is St. Giles, in thesmall town of StokePoges, Buckinghamshire, insouthern England.Gray himself is buried in that cemetery.William Penn, thefounder ofPennsylvania, once maintained a manorhouse at Stoge Poges.
Figures of SpeechAlliteration Repetition Plowman homeward plods his weary way(line 3) The cocks shrill clarion, or the echoinghorn (line 19) Nor cast one longing, lingring lookbehind? (line 88) Now drooping, woeful wan, like oneforlorn (line 107) Or crazd with care, or crossd in hopelesslove. (line 108)
MetaphorFull many a gem of purest ray serene,Thedark unfathomed caves of ocean bear .Full many a flowr is born to blushunseen,And waste its sweetness on thedesert air. (lines 53-56) - Comparison ofthe dead village people to gems andflowersOr heap the shrine of Luxury andPrideWith incense kindled at the Musesflame.
MetonymyUse of a word or phrase tosuggest a related word or phraseTo scatter plenty o’er a smilinglandLand stands for people.
Personification Let not Ambition mock their useful toil Their homelyjoys, and destiny obscure ; Nor Grandeur hearwith a disdainful smile . The short and simpleannals of the poor. (lines 29-32) Ambition and Grandeur take on humancharacteristics. But Knowledge to their eyes herample page Rich with the spoils of time did neerunroll (line 49-50) Notice that Knowledge becomes a person, afemale. Fair Science frown’d not on his humblebirth, And Melancholy mark’d him for her own.(lines 119-120)