["][38], The poem concludes with a description of the poet's grave, over which the speaker is meditating, together with a description of the end of the poet's life:[39], "There at the foot of yonder nodding beech,     And melancholy mark'd him for her own. This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd. [71], It is also possible that parts of T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets are derived from the Elegy, although Eliot believed that Gray's diction, along with 18th-century poetic diction in general, was restrictive and limited. Epitaph On A Friend; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. [14] The revised version of 1768 was that later printed.     Along the heath, and near his fav'rite tree; [36], The speaker focuses on the inequities that come from death, obscuring individuals, while he begins to resign himself to his own inevitable fate. The poet/ speaker is in a Country Churchyard. This is compounded further by the narrator trying to avoid an emotional response to death, by relying on rhetorical questions and discussing what his surroundings lack. Gray dismisses its positives as merely being that he was able to complete the poem, which was probably influenced by his experience of the churchyard at Stoke Poges, where he attended the Sunday service and was able to visit the grave of Antrobus. Using the word "apply" would throw off the rhythm of the poem. [92] These include ambiguities of word order and the fact that certain languages do not allow the understated way in which Gray indicates that the poem is a personalised statement in the final line of the first stanza, “And leaves the world to darkness and to me”. He wrote elegant lyric and dramatic poems, Latin translations, odes and … [11] It was so popular that it was reprinted twelve times and reproduced in many different periodicals until 1765,[12] including in Gray's Six Poems (1753), in his Odes (1757),[13] and in Volume IV of Dodsley's 1755 compilation of poetry. In the letter, Gray said,[121], The Stanza's, which I now enclose to you have had the Misfortune by Mr W:s Fault to be made ... publick, for which they certainly were never meant, but it is too late to complain. I have been here at Stoke a few days (where I shall continue good part of the summer); and having put an end to a thing, whose beginnings you have seen long ago. As he began to contemplate various aspects of mortality, he combined his desire to determine a view of order and progress present in the Classical world with aspects of his own life. Gray shortens this word in order to fit the rhythm of his lines. It was printed many times and in a variety of formats, translated into many languages, and praised by critics even after Gray's other poetry had fallen out of favour. The next, with dirges due in sad array "[10], The pamphlet contained woodblock illustrations and was printed without attribution to Gray, at his request. And thou who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead "[142] Patricia Spacks, in 1967, focused on the psychological questions in the poem and claimed that "For these implicit questions the final epitaph provides no adequate answer; perhaps this is one reason why it seems not entirely a satisfactory conclusion to the poem. Alongside Alexander Pope, Thomas Gray is one of the most important English poets of the 18th century.     Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love. [55] The poem ignores politics to focus on various comparisons between a rural and urban life in a psychological manner.     Pursue the silent tenour of thy doom. In Asia they provided an alternative to tradition-bound native approaches and were identified as an avenue to modernism. The stanza form, quatrains with an ABAB rhyme scheme, was common to English poetry and used throughout the 16th century. "[140] Regarding the status of the poem, Graham Hough in 1953 explained, "no one has ever doubted, but many have been hard put to it to explain in what its greatness consists. The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea, The plowman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me. The two versions of the poem, Stanzas and Elegy, approach death differently; the first contains a stoic response to death, but the final version contains an epitaph which serves to repress the narrator's fear of dying. [91] Study of the translations, and especially those produced soon after the poem was written, has highlighted some of the difficulties that the text presents. "[155] He later pointed out: "Gray's 'Elegy' was universally admired in his lifetime and has remained continuously the most popular of mid-eighteenth-century English poems; it is, as Gosse has called it, the standard English poem. Gray’s Elegy in English, French and Latin was published from Croydon in 1788.     Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he; Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard is a poem by Thomas Gray, completed in 1750 and first published in 1751. [5] The events dampened the mood that Christmas, and Antrobus's death was ever fresh in the minds of the Gray family. "[137] Later, in 1947, Cleanth Brooks pointed out that "In Gray's poem, the imagery does seem to be intrinsically poetic; the theme, true; the 'statement', free from ambiguity, and free from irony. If Mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise, Where thro' the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault. "[124], There is a story that the British General James Wolfe read the poem before his troops arrived at the Plains of Abraham in September 1759 as part of the Seven Years' War. Tome 1 / ; auquel on a ajouté, 1° l'Elégie célèbre de Thomas Gray, Written in a country church-yar ; 2° l'imitation libre de cette élégie mise en vers français, par Charrin ; 3° et celle italienne de Torelli. The poem begins in a churchyard with a speaker who is describing his surroundings in vivid detail. [6], On 3 June 1750, Gray moved to Stoke Poges, and on 12 June he completed Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. [28] Although the ending reveals the narrator's repression of feelings surrounding his inevitable fate, it is optimistic. The poem's primary message is to promote the idea of "Englishness", and the pastoral English countryside. Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust. Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray. The poem lacks many standard features of the elegy: an invocation, mourners, flowers, and shepherds. [113] At the period there were guides for the dramatic performance of such pieces involving expressive hand gestures, and they included directions for this piece. One favourite theme was a meditation among ruins, such as John Langhorne's Written among the ruins of Pontefract Castle (1756),[60] Edward Moore's “An elegy, written among the ruins of a nobleman's seat in Cornwall" (1756)[61] and John Cunningham's "An elegy on a pile of ruins" (1761). His listless length at noontide would he stretch. "[135] He continued: "the truism of the reflection in the churchyard, the universality and impersonality this gives to the style, claim as if by comparison that we ought to accept the injustice of society as we do the inevitability of death. And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes, Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib'd alone. Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood. His listless length at noontide would he stretch, Gray may, however, have begun writing the poem in 1742, shortly after the death of his close friend Richard West. Illustration to Gray's 'Elegy' - John Constable - V&A Search the Collections", "Search and Rescue: An Annotated Checklist of Translations of Gray’s Elegy", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Elegy_Written_in_a_Country_Churchyard&oldid=1004384415, Articles with dead external links from January 2018, Articles with permanently dead external links, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. The little tyrant of his fields withstood; Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest. Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share. But the Four Quartets cover many of the same views, and Eliot's village is similar to Gray's hamlet. [9], Walpole added a preface to the poem reading: "The following POEM came into my hands by Accident, if the general Approbation with which this little Piece has been spread, may be call'd by so slight a Term as Accident. Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault. But it is also, and more importantly, that in its essentials Gray's Elegy touches this tradition at many points, and consideration of them is of interest to both to appreciation of the poem and to seeing how [...] they become in the later tradition essential points of reference. He argued that the poem was in response to West's death, but there is little to indicate that Mason would have such information. Gray's is natural, whereas Milton's is more artificially designed. His "A Summer Evening Churchyard, Lechlade, Gloucestershire" is metrically more inventive and written in a six-line stanza that terminates Gray's cross-rhymed quatrain with a couplet. Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn. [102] What we learn from all this activity is that, as the centenary of its first publication approached, interest in Gray's Elegy continued unabated in Europe and new translations of it continued to be made. "[138] After describing various aspects and complexities within the poem, Brooks provided his view on the poem's conclusion: "the reader may not be altogether convinced, as I am not altogether convinced, that the epitaph with which the poem closes is adequate. After reading the poem, he is reported to have said: "Gentlemen, I would rather have written those lines than take Quebec tomorrow.     Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined; The later ending also explores the narrator's own death, whereas the earlier version serves as a Christian consolation regarding death. [25], In evoking the English countryside, the poem belongs to the picturesque tradition found in John Dyer's Grongar Hill (1726), and the long line of topographical imitations it inspired. Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap. The epitaph reveals that the poet whose grave is the focus of the poem was unknown and obscure. "[144] In 1968, Herbert Starr pointed out that the poem was "frequently referred to, with some truth, as the best known poem in the English language. Such publications were followed by multilingual collections, of which the most ambitious was Alessandro Torri's L'elegia di Tommaso Gray sopra un cimitero di campagna tradotta dall'inglese in più lingue con varie cose finora inedite (Verona 1819). The latest database of translations of the Elegy, amongst which the above version figures, records over 260 in some forty languages.     "Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r He claimed that the poem "as the context makes clear", means that "18th-century England had no scholarship system of carriere ouverte aux talents. One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill, An extreme example was provided by the classicised French imitation by the Latin scholar John Roberts in 1875. In the winter of 1749 Gray took it in hand again, at Cambridge, after the death of his aunt, Mary Antrobus. For thee, who mindful of th' unhonour'd Dead. In choosing an "English" over a Classical setting, Gray provided a model for later poets wishing to describe England and the English countryside during the second half of the 18th century. Written in a Country Meeting House, April 1789; Parodized from Gray for the Entertainment of Those Who Laugh at All Parties by George Richards (d.1804) and published from Boston MA,[76] the parody was printed opposite Gray's original page by page, making the translation to the political context more obvious. It is the Approbation which makes it unnecessary for me to make any Apology but to the Author: As he cannot but feel some Satisfaction in having pleas'd so many Readers already, I flatter myself he will forgive my communicating that Pleasure to many more. And yet the "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" is hands-down one of the most beautiful poems written in the eighteenth century, and it certainly had a major impact on later writers, especially Romantic-era poets like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and John Keats, among others. Th' applause of list'ning senates to command, Of such as, wand'ring near her secret bow'r, [64] At that period an anonymous review in The Academy (12 December 1896) claimed that "Gray's 'Elegy' and Goldsmith's 'The Deserted Village' shine forth as the two human poems in a century of artifice. His descriptions move from sensations to his own thoughts as he begins to emphasise what is not present in the scene; he contrasts an obscure country life with a life that is remembered. "[154] In 1988, Morris Golden, after describing Gray as a "poet's poet" and places him "within the pantheon of those poets with whom familiarity is inescapable for anyone educated in the English language" declared that in "the 'Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard,' mankind has felt itself to be directly addressed by a very sympathetic, human voice. Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay, Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.     The moping owl does to the moon complain And all the air a solemn stillness holds. Some of these problems disappeared when that translation was into Classical Latin, only to be replaced by others that Gray himself raised in correspondence with Christopher Anstey, one of the first of his translators into Latin. [22], The poem is not a conventional part of the Classical genre of Theocritan elegy, because it does not mourn an individual. Fair science frown'd not on his humble birth, Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard Poem by Thomas Gray. On 3 June 1750, Gray moved to Stoke Poges, and on 12 June he completed Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade. [98] A French publication ingeniously followed suit by including the Elegy in an 1816 guide to the Père Lachaise Cemetery, accompanied by Torelli's Italian translation and Pierre-Joseph Charrin’s free Le Cimetière de village.[99]. The poem's composition could also have been prompted by the entrance of Prince William, Duke of Cumberland into London or by a trial of Jacobite nobility in 1746. In addition, many in his Wessex Poems and Other Verses (1898) contain a graveyard theme and take a similar stance to Gray, and its frontispiece depicts a graveyard. Despite this, after his death only his elegy remained popular until 20th-century critics began to re-evaluate his poetry.     Bids every fierce tumultuous passion cease; "[125] Adam Smith, in his 21st lecture on rhetoric in 1763, argued that poetry should deal with "A temper of mind that differs very little from the common tranquillity of mind is what we can best enter into, by the perusal of a small piece of a small length ... an Ode or Elegy in which there is no odds but in the measure which differ little from the common state of mind are what most please us. He describes the beauty of the English countryside and its people.     The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:     The little tyrant of his fields withstood, "[51], The poem ends with the narrator turning towards his own fate, accepting his life and accomplishments. And this is the source of his triumph. The description of death and obscurity adopts Locke's political philosophy as it emphasises the inevitability and finality of death. [90] As well as the principal European languages and some of the minor such as Welsh, Breton and Icelandic, they include several in Asian languages as well. Produced by chromolithography, each of its 35 pages was individually designed with two half stanzas in a box surrounded by coloured foliar and floral borders. Gray stresses here the equality in “the inevitable hour” or, in other words, in death. Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard; Epitaph On A Child; Christina Georgina Rossetti. The only other letter to discuss the poem was one sent to Wharton on 11 September 1746, which alludes to the poem being worked on. I should have been glad, that you & two or three more People had liked them, which would have satisfied my ambition on this head amply. A. Richards, following in 1929, declared that the merits of the poem come from its tone: "poetry, which has no other very remarkable qualities, may sometimes take very high rank simply because the poet's attitude to his listeners – in view of what he has to say – is so perfect. "[134], In the 1930s and 1940s, critics emphasised the content of the poem, and some felt that it fell short of what was necessary to make it truly great. As the speaker does so, the poem shifts and the first speaker is replaced by a second who describes the death of the first:[37], For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead, "Ply" is a shorthand form of "apply." How much do you know about the beautiful details and grand style of Thomas Gray's most famous poem? [83] It was followed next year by the bitter Elegy in Newgate, published in The Satirist in the character of the recently imprisoned William Cobbett. The ploughman homeward plods his weary way, With anecdotes of the life of Gray, and some remarks in French; by the editor", "Thomas Gray Archive : Texts : Digital Library : Élégie de Gray (1788)", "Elegia inglese ... sopra un cimitero campestre", "Le Champ du repos, ou le Cimetière Mont-Louis, dit du Père Delachaise, ouvrage orné de planches, représentant plus de 2000 mausolées érigés dans ce cimetière, depuis sa création jusqu'au 1er janvier 1816, avec leurs épitaphes ; son plan topographique, tel qu'il existait du temps de père Delachaise, et tel qu'il existe aujourd'hui ; précédé d'un portrait de ce jésuite, d'un abrégé de sa vie ; et suivi de quelques remarques sur la manière dont différens peuples honorent les défunts. It is easy to point out that its thought is commonplace, that its diction and imagery are correct, noble but unoriginal, and to wonder where the immediately recognizable greatness has slipped in. [95] The pattern of including translations and imitations together continued into the 19th century with an 1806 bilingual edition in which a translation into French verse, signed simply L.D., appeared facing the English original page by page. The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea. [49], In describing the narrator's analysis of his surroundings, Gray employed John Locke's philosophy of the sensations, which argued that the senses were the origin of ideas. Forbade to wade thro' slaughter to a throne,     Exalt the brave, and idolize success; Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield. At the end of the century, Matthew Arnold, in his 1881 collection of critical writings, summed up the general response: "The Elegy pleased; it could not but please: but Gray's poetry, on the whole, astonished his contemporaries at first more than it pleased them; it was so unfamiliar, so unlike the sort of poetry in vogue. For those who haven’t been before, this is eleventh of a series of sixteen lectures on ‘the mysteries of reading and writing’. The poem concludes with an epitaph, which reinforces Gray's indirect and reticent manner of writing. The theme does not emphasise loss as do other elegies, and its natural setting is not a primary component of its theme. [68] Robert Browning relied on a similar setting to the Elegy in his pastoral poem "Love Among the Ruins" which describes the desire for glory and how everything ends in death. Home Poems Poets Thomas Gray Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.     And shut the gates of mercy on mankind, Unlike Locke, the narrator of the poem knows that he is unable to fathom the universe, but still questions the matter. For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn. "[51] However, death is not completely democratic because "if circumstances prevented them from achieving great fame, circumstances also saved them from committing great crimes. Constable's charcoal and wash study of the "ivy-mantled tower" in stanza 3 is held by the Victoria and Albert Museum,[108] as is his watercolour study of Stoke Poges church,[109] while the watercolour for stanza 5, in which the narrator leans on a gravestone to survey the cemetery, is held at the British Museum (see below). An elegy is a poem which laments the dead. The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn. Some other translators, with other priorities, found elegant means to render the original turn of speech exactly. [One Italian version by P. G. “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” Summary. Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib'd alone "[128] Debate over Gray's work continued into the 19th century, and Victorian critics remained unconvinced by the rest of it. The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide, "[157] Later, Robert Mack, in 2000, explained that "Gray's Elegy is numbered high among the very greatest poems in the English tradition precisely because of its simultaneous accessibility and inscrutability. W.Tindal's musical setting for voices was of the "Epitaph" (1785),[111] which was perhaps the item performed as a trio after a recitation of the poem at the newly opened Royalty Theatre in London in 1787. [150] He continued by arguing that it is the poem's discussion of morality and death that is the source of its "enduring popularity". Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? [82] In 1809, H. P. Houghton wrote An evening's contemplation in a French prison, being a humble imitation of Gray's Elegy while he was a prisoner at Arras during the Napoleonic wars (London 1809). Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. "[129], In 1882, Edmund Gosse analyzed the reception of Gray's poem: "It is curious to reflect upon the modest and careless mode in which that poem was first circulated which was destined to enjoy and to retain a higher reputation in literature than any other English poem perhaps than any other poem of the world written between Milton and Wordsworth. The poem argues that the remembrance can be good and bad, and the narrator finds comfort in pondering the lives of the obscure rustics buried in the churchyard. It may be that there never was; it may be that in the obscure graveyard lie those who but for circumstance would have been as famous as Milton and Hampden. In his poem “Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard,” Thomas Gray says, “The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r, / Awaits alike th’ inevitable hour” (33-35). W. K. Wimsatt, in 1970, suggested, "Perhaps we shall be tempted to say only that Gray transcends and outdoes Hammond and Shenstone simply because he writes a more poetic line, richer, fuller, more resonant and memorable in all the ways in which we are accustomed to analyze the poetic quality. In the case of the American The Political Passing Bell: An Elegy. He writes of death and its effect on all beings. [120], The immediate response to the final draft version of the poem was positive and Walpole was very pleased with the work.     To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame, Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires. Nor cast one longing, ling'ring look behind? [122], The poem was praised for its universal aspects,[53] and Gray became one of the most famous English poets of his era. By the Author of the Nunnery [i.e. In 1995, Lorna Clymer argued, "The dizzying series of displacements and substitutions of subjects, always considered a crux in Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" (1751), results from a complex manipulation of epitaphic rhetoric.     That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, "[141] Following in 1963, Martin Day argued that the poem was "perhaps the most frequently quoted short poem in English. The French author there was Pierre Guédon de Berchère and the Latin translator (like Gray and Anstey, a Cambridge graduate) was Gilbert Wakefield. Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, [28] Nevertheless, the sense of kinship with Robert Blair's "The Grave" was so generally recognised that Gray's Elegy was added to several editions of Blair's poem between 1761 and 1808, after which other works began to be included as well. One other point, already mentioned, was how to deal with the problem of rendering the poem's fourth line. In 1930, William Empson, while praising the form of the poem as universal, argued against its merits because of its potential political message. Elegy written in a country church yard. [32] Once Gray had set the example, any occasion would do to give a sense of the effects of time in a landscape, as for instance in the passage of the seasons as described in John Scott’s Four Elegies, descriptive and moral (1757). And leaves the world to darkness and to me. Analysis of Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard By Nasrullah Mambrol on July 7, 2020 • ( 0). Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight, Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect. [94] He similarly ignored Gray's suggestion in the same letter, referring back to his own alternative versions in earlier drafts of his poem: “Might not the English characters here be romanized? [42], The original conclusion from the earlier version of the poem confronts the reader with the inevitable prospect of death and advises resignation, which differs from the indirect, third-person description in the final version:[43], The thoughtless world to majesty may bow, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray. In the year 1751, It was first published. Yet there is a special pathos in these obscure tombs; the crude inscriptions on the clumsy monuments are so poignant a reminder of the vain longing of all men, however humble, to be loved and to be remembered. The plowman homeward plods his weary way. Poem of the week: Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray Schoolchildren used to learn this resonant memorial to humble rustic folk, and they still should A village churchyard. His description of the moon, birds and trees dispels the horror found in them, and he largely avoids mentioning the word "grave", instead using euphemisms.[47]. In a 20 February letter to Walpole, Gray thanked him for intervening and helping to get a quality version of the poem published before Owen. The reason for this extraordinary unanimity of praise are as varied as the ways in which poetry can appeal. the answer is partly that no study of major English elegies could well omit it. Or Flatt'ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death? [112] At about that time too, Stephen Storace set the first two stanzas in his “The curfew tolls” for voice and keyboard, with a reprise of the first stanza at the end. [1] The poem's origins are unknown, but it was partly inspired by Gray's thoughts following the death of the poet Richard West in 1742. Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast. Immediately, he included the poem in a letter he sent to Walpole, that said:[7], As I live in a place where even the ordinary tattle of the town arrives not till it is stale, and which produces no events of its own, you will not desire any excuse from me for writing so seldom, especially as of all people living I know you are the least a friend to letters spun out of one's own brains, with all the toil and constraint that accompanies sentimental productions. "[131] He concluded with a reinforcing claim on the poem's place in English poetry: "It possesses the charm of incomparable felicity, of a melody that is not too subtle to charm every ear, of a moral persuasiveness that appeals to every generation, and of metrical skill that in each line proclaims the master. The pealing anthem swells the note of praise. 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