My inspired interpretations received after reading several times
this truly wonderful and very deep poem by Thomas Grays.
A gift he gave to this world and one that is so widely recognized
for its depths, truth, insight, and laments about this dark world
and its harsh, heavy cruel blows laid upon the common man. RJL
Inspiration, Revelation, Adaptation, With Poetic Verse
I saw morn's soft hands stretching to touch bright moonlight
Tis but a fleeting blink betwixt man's death and birth
Dark unknowing is why we so oft fear the night
In that abject blindness, fail to see life's true worth
Alas! Such are sorrows of mankind's constant plight
That feeds malignant swellings of darkness on earth;
Those of ancient times, of distant long-dead yesterdays
Will one day from that deepest of slumbers arise
Long hidden from flown days and nights, deep weeping grays
Reborn with no thoughts of dark cast previous lies.
As Earth spins, sounding its constant evolving beats
We blind to light's truth, continue our foolish acts
Racing onward counting our coins and useless feats
Life came from light's truth, not so-called man-made facts.
I that thought to profit, see beyond Earthly veil
Having never measured truest rectitude of life
In my epic quest, the highest of mountains scale
In youth, blind to sad flowing storms of mortal strife
Alas! We that in our darkness refuse to see
Oft face raging storms that seem to forever swirl
Not realizing, Love's blessings are given free
To counter lightning bolts world's malevolence hurls.
I that foolishly thought to defeat that we die
Later learned the truth our vanity denies
We are lost because we believe that blackest lie
That we were once roaming beasts beneath earthen skies
By our own greatness became gods of divine might
Free to do as we please, revel in our delights.
In June, when wondering winds our hearts so lighten
I have found eager bubbling brooks streaming along
Summer's morn setting up today gaily brighten
Nature gifting beauty, songbirds gifting sweet song
Across flowering meadows, busy bees flying
Life many treasures so beautifully sharing
Time to live, not sadly ponder mortal dying
For truest of joy depends on our loving caring
There rests much more happiness in sincere kindness
And sweeter breath within Love's soft-touch inspiring
Eyes to then see, welcoming defeat of blindness
Rather than worldly conflicts and daily sparring
To satisfy our fleshly dreams and deep desires
And embrace light's divine truth that never expires.
Robert J. Lindley, 9/15, 9/16, 9/17
( When Blessed Gifts Are Suddenly Given To One Pleading )
Note -- This new creation, was composed in three days of
each day my reading of Thomas Gray's magnificent poem,
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, that was first
published in 1751....
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
BY THOMAS GRAY
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.
Now fades the glimm'ring landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such, as wand'ring near her secret bow'r,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If Mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where thro' the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flatt'ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or wak'd to ecstasy the living lyre.
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flow'r is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.
Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib'd alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd;
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect,
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
For who to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing, ling'ring look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who mindful of th' unhonour'd Dead
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
"Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.
"There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
"Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove,
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.
"One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
Along the heath and near his fav'rite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;
"The next with dirges due in sad array
Slow thro' the church-way path we saw him borne.
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay,
Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."
Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heav'n did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Mis'ry all he had, a tear,
He gain'd from Heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose)
The bosom of his Father and his God.
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Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard Summary
Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Plot Summary of “Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard” by Thomas Gray. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics.
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard is a Restoration Period poem by Thomas Gray. An elegy, by strict definition, is usually a lament for the dead. Gray’s version of an elegy is slightly different—he writes about the inevitability and hollowness of death in general, instead of mourning one person. At first, the poem reflects on death in a mostly detached way, as someone who is resigned to death’s outcome. Yet, the epitaph he writes for himself at the end of the poem, reflects a fear of death. Elegy is a renowned English poem, regarded as one of the best of the time, and arguably of all time. It was popular when it was first written and was reprinted many times.
The speaker begins the poem by saying he is in a churchyard with a bell tolling for the end of the day, he uses this image as a metaphor for life and death. He describes the scenery around him, speaking of the sun setting, the church tower covered in ivy, and an owl hooting. He then focuses on the graveyard around him. He speaks of the men who are in the graves and how they were probably simple village folk. They’re dead and nothing will wake these villagers, not a rooster’s call in the morning, not twittering birds, and not the smell of the morning breeze. The speaker also laments that life’s pleasures will no longer be felt by those buried in the graveyard, especially emphasizing the joys of family life.
The dead villagers probably were farmers, and the speaker discusses how they probably enjoyed farming. He warns that although it sounds like a simple life, no one should mock a good honest working life as these men once had. No one should mock these men because in death, these arbitrary ideas of being wealthy or high-born do not matter. Fancy grave markers will not bring someone back to life, and neither will the honor of being well born.
The speaker then wonders about those in the graveyard who are buried in unmarked graves. He wonders if they were full of passion, or if they were potential world leaders who left the world too soon. He wonders if one was a beautiful lyre player, whose music could bring the lyre to life—literally. He laments for the poor villagers, as they were never able to learn much about the world. He uses metaphors to describe their lack of education, that knowledge as a book was never open to them, and that poverty froze their souls.
He speaks of those in the graveyard as unsung heroes, comparing them to gems that are never found, or flowers that bloom and are never seen. He wonders if some of the residents of the graveyard could have been historically relevant, but unable to shine. One could have been a mute Milton, the author of Paradise Lost; or one could have been like John Hampden, a politician who openly opposed the policies of King Charles. Alas, the speaker mourns again that these villagers were poor and unable to make their mark on the world.
But because they were poor, they were also innocent. They were not capable of regicide or being merciless. They were also incapable of hiding the truth, meaning they were honest with the world. The speaker notes that these people, because they were poor, will not even be remembered negatively. They lived far from cities and lived in the quiet. At least their graves are protected by simple grave markers, so people do not desecrate their burial places by accident. And the graves have enough meaning to the speaker that he will stop and reflect on their lives. The speaker wonders who leaves earth in death without wondering what they are leaving behind. Even the poor leave behind loved ones, and they need someone in their life who is pious to close their eyes upon death.
The speaker begins to wonder about himself in relation to these graveyard inhabitants. Even if these deceased villagers were poor, at least the speaker is elegizing them now. The speaker wonders who will elegize him. Maybe it will be someone like him, a kindred spirit, who wandered into the same graveyard. Possibly some grey-haired farmer, who would remark on having seen the speaker rush through the dew covered grass to watch the sun set on the meadow. The speaker continues to think of the imagined farmer, who would remember the speaker luxuriating on the strangely grown roots of a tree, while he watched the babbling brook. Maybe the farmer would think of how the speaker wandered through the woods looking pale with scorn and sorrow. Possibly the speaker was anxious, or was a victim of unrequited love. The speaker wonders if the farmer will notice he’s gone one day, that the farmer did not see him by his favorite tree, near the meadow, or by the woods. He speaks of his own funeral dirges and finally of his own epitaph.
In the speaker’s own epitaph, he remarks that he has died, unknown to both fame and fortune, as in he never became famous and was not well-born. But at least he was full of knowledge—he was a scholar and a poet. Yet oftentimes, the speaker could become depressed. But he was bighearted and sincere, so heaven paid him back for his good qualities by giving him a friend. His other good and bad qualities do not matter anymore, so he instructs people not to go looking for them since he hopes for a good life in heaven with God.