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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray (Summary)

Thomas Gray was an English poet and among other things, a professor at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He was born 1716 but departed the earth 1771.

A book cannot be judged by its cover but according to the notion of the poem speaker, status of a dead person can be judged by the nature of his or her grave.

By looking at the graves in a certain country churchyard, the poem speaker concluded that they were poor alive which led to the sympathetic feeling towards them.

The journey of life comes to halt with death and such is buttressed in the poem. The poem speaker reminds the readers that death is inevitable and comes to everyone irrespective of class, age or status.

The poet through imagery sets the mood of finality that depicts an end to an ongoing activity. This state of finality is reflected in the significance of the images of the "curfew", the "lowing herd" and the "plowman" who, in their various activities, indicate an end of action, a span of life as it were. Thus in "tolls and knell of parting day", "wind
slowly o'er the Lea" and "homeward plods his weary way", the impression of a halt to a state of existence is conveyed.

This state of loss is reflected in a natural environment and it takes on the feature of the pathetic fallacy. There is a sense of impending darkness looming over the environment and this is seen in the "fading glimmer of the landscape". Solemn stillness of the air", the absence of the "twittering swallows" and the "cock's shrill clarion or the echoing horn".

The diction amplifies this state of sadness and grief in the poet's use of contrast and repetition. There is the repetition of "no more" to emphasize finality of action as in: "no more shall rouse them from then lowly bed", and "for them no more the blazing hearth shall burn".

Contrast is seen in the lack of action that characterizes death and the bustling activities of life. In death, "no more the blazing hearth shall burn" or busy house wife ply her evening care no children run to lisp their sires' return. While in life "off did the harvest to their sickle yield. How jocund did they drive their team afield!. How cowed the woods beneath their sturdy strike!. This contrast between activity and inactivity highlights the poet's misery and grief.

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Samuel C Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)
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