[66] Percy Bysshe Shelley, for example, who as a schoolboy was given the exercise of translating part of the Elegy into Latin, eventually wrote his own meditation among the graves in 1815. Thomas Gray. Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. 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. 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. The reason for this extraordinary unanimity of praise are as varied as the ways in which poetry can appeal. Many of the foreign words Gray adapted were previously used by Shakespeare or Milton, securing an "English" tone, and he emphasised monosyllabic words throughout his elegy to add a rustic English tone. Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd muse.     Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he; Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife. An extreme example was provided by the classicised French imitation by the Latin scholar John Roberts in 1875. In the twentieth century we have remained eager to praise, yet praise has proved difficult; although tradition and general human experience affirm that the poem is a masterpiece, and although one could hardly wish a single word changed, it seems surprisingly resistant to analysis. The draft sent to Walpole was subsequently lost. Eventually, Gray remembered some lines of poetry that he composed in 1742 following the death of West, a poet he knew. Garrison ch.4, “Gray’s language and the languages of translation”, p.153ff. And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds; Of such, as wand'ring near her secret bow'r. As a side effect, the events caused Gray to spend much of his time contemplating his own mortality. Anstey did not agree that Latin was as unpliable as Gray suggests and had no difficulty in finding ways of including all these references, although other Latin translators found different solutions, especially in regard to inclusion of the beetle. [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, If Mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise, Where thro' the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault. Some reviewers of his Lives of the Poets, and many of Gray's editors, thought that he was too harsh. "[65], The Elegy's continued influence in the 19th century provoked a response from the Romantic poets, who often attempted to define their own beliefs in reaction to Gray's. [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). [84], An obvious distinction can be made between imitations meant to stand as independent works within the elegiac genre, not all of which followed Gray's wording closely, and those with a humorous or satirical purpose. Through the medium of these, Romanticism was brought to the host literatures in Europe. But Gray's outline of the events provides the second possible way the poem was composed: the first lines of the poem were written some time in 1746 and he probably wrote more of the poem during the time than Walpole claimed. Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,     Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.     Than pow'r or genius e'er conspir'd to bless [70] Thomas Hardy, who had memorised Gray's poem, took the title of his fourth novel, Far from the Madding Crowd, from a line in it. Romantic elements in Gray's "Elegy Written in Country Churchyard" Essay by s_obaidullah2001 , University, Bachelor's , A- , March 2004 download word file , 3 pages download word file , … Now fades the glimm'ring landscape on the sight, A free summary of the poem Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray. 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). The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed. The argument between living a rural life or urban life lets Gray discuss questions that answer how he should live his own life, but the conclusion of the poem does not resolve the debate as the narrator is able to recreate himself in a manner that reconciles both types of life while arguing that poetry is capable of preserving those who have died. [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. An additional feature was the cover of deeply embossed brown leather made to imitate carved wood. Having approached John Constable and other major artists for designs to illustrate the Elegy, these were then engraved on wood for the first edition in 1834. [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]. It is an elegy in form, written primarily to mourn the death of the villagers, but it mainly mourns the death of simplicity of life. Haply some hoary-headed swain may say, Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade. [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. "[136] T. S. Eliot’s 1932 collection of essays contained a comparison of the elegy to the sentiment found in metaphysical poetry: "The feeling, the sensibility, expressed in the Country Churchyard (to say nothing of Tennyson and Browning) is cruder than that in the Coy Mistress. "[148] Also in 1977, Thomas Carper noted, "While Gray was a schoolboy at Eton, his poetry began to show a concern with parental relationships, and with his position among the great and lowly in the world [...] But in the Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard these longstanding and very human concerns have their most affecting expression. [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? [69] Unlike Gray, Browning adds a female figure and argues that nothing but love matters. "Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn. Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless breast, "[127], Johnson's general criticism prompted many others to join in the debate. The pealing anthem swells the note of praise. Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay, Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn. [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. The poem's primary message is to promote the idea of "Englishness", and the pastoral English countryside. 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. "[128] Debate over Gray's work continued into the 19th century, and Victorian critics remained unconvinced by the rest of it. [77] Profiting by its success, Jerningham followed it up in successive years with other poems on the theme of nuns, in which the connection with Gray's work, though less close, was maintained in theme, form and emotional tone: The Magdalens: An Elegy (1763);[78] The Nun: an elegy (1764);[79] and “An Elegy Written Among the Ruins of an Abbey” (1765), which is derivative of the earlier poems on ruins by Moore and Cunningham. Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard is a poem by Thomas Gray, first published in 1751. Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib'd alone [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”. The poem lacks many standard features of the elegy: an invocation, mourners, flowers, and shepherds. 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. An article in the Annual Register for 1782 recognised, with relation to the Elegy, "That the doctor was not over zealous to allow [Gray] the degree of praise that the public voice had universally assigned him, is, we think, sufficiently apparent"; but it went on to qualify this with the opinion that "partiality to [Gray's] beautiful elegy had perhaps allotted him a rank above his general merits. The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. You will, I hope, look upon it in light of a thing with an end to it; a merit that most of my writing have wanted, and are like to want, but which this epistle I am determined shall not want. "[139], Critics during the 1950s and 1960s generally regarded the Elegy as powerful, and emphasised its place as one of the great English poems. "[149] In 1978, Howard Weinbrot noted, "With all its long tradition of professional examination the poem remains distant for many readers, as if the criticism could not explain why Johnson thought that "The Church-yard abounds with images that find a mirrour in every mind". 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. - John Constable - V&A Search the Collections", "Stoke Poges Church, Buckinghamshire. 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. This strong pathos of Gray's Elegy achieves a central position as the antithetical tradition that truly mourns primarily a loss of the self. The use of "elegy" is related to the poem relying on the concept of lacrimae rerum, or disquiet regarding the human condition. 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]. Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn. Of such as, wand'ring near her secret bow'r, [35], Full many a gem of purest ray serene After reading the poem, he is reported to have said: "Gentlemen, I would rather have written those lines than take Quebec tomorrow. One other point, already mentioned, was how to deal with the problem of rendering the poem's fourth line. Through the "Epitaph" at the end, it can be included in the tradition as a memorial poem,[23] and it contains thematic elements of the elegiac genre, especially mourning. 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. The 'Elegy' is a beautiful technical accomplishment, as can be seen even in such details as the variation of the vowel sounds or the poet's rare discretion in the choice of adjectives and adverbs. He argued that the poem was in response to West's death, but there is little to indicate that Mason would have such information. (There they alike in trembling hope repose,) During the summer of 1750, Gray received so much positive support regarding the poem that he was in dismay, but did not mention it in his letters until an 18 December 1750 letter to Wharton. [85] One example uncollected there was the ingenious double parody of J. C. Squire, "If Gray had had to write his Elegy in the Cemetery of Spoon River instead of in that of Stoke Poges". There is a difference in tone between the two versions of the elegy; the early one ends with an emphasis on the narrator joining with the obscure common man, while the later version ends with an emphasis on how it is natural for humans to want to be known. [29], The performance is connected with the several odes that Gray also wrote and those of Joseph Warton and William Collins. Gray wrote this elegy in the year 1742. The speaker emphasises both aural and visual sensations as he examines the area in relation to himself: 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. Fair science frown'd not on his humble birth, The poem's speaker calmly mulls over death while standing in … Thomas Gray’s “ Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard ” belongs to the genre of elegy. 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. 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 Churchyard” by Thomas Gray is a 1751 poem about the buried inhabitants of a country churchyard and a meditation on the inevitability of death for all. Read by Maurice Riordan. [86] This was an example of how later parodies shifted their critical aim, in this case "explicitly calling attention to the formal and thematic ties which connected the 18th century work with its 20th century derivation" in Edgar Lee Masters' work. Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield. Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard Poem by Thomas Gray. 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. [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. "[132] I. "[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. [96] However, the bulk of the book was made up of four English parodies. Along the heath and near his fav'rite tree; Slow thro' the church-way path we saw him borne. "[152] Also in 1984, Anne Williams claimed, "ever since publication it has been both popular and universally admired. The curfew tolls the knell of parting day. Gray's 'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard' is the culmination of the literature of melancholy as well as of the Churchyard school. Approach and read (for thou can'st read) the lay Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride The first version of the elegy is among the few early poems composed by Gray in English, including "Sonnet on the Death of Richard West", his "Eton Ode", and his "Ode to Adversity". "Ply" is a shorthand form of "apply." If chance, by lonely contemplation led, The epitaph reveals that the poet whose grave is the focus of the poem was unknown and obscure. The later ending also explores the narrator's own death, whereas the earlier version serves as a Christian consolation regarding death. [One Italian version by P. G.     Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love. 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