In his poem "Elegy Written WITHIN A Country Churchyard, " Thomas Gray says, "The feature heraldry, the pomp of pow'r, / Awaits likewise th' inevitable hour" (33-35). Gray strains here the equality in "the inevitable hour" or, in other words, in death. He suggests that electricity, money, and public prestige will always fall to mortality. Even though certain folks have opportunities and popularity, in the end, everyone, he suggests, must face fatality. Gray is aware of the inequality in communal school and writes his elegy about people who never really had the opportunity to reach their potential. He believes that there surely is no difference between your famous and the common people in the end, and he actually praises the normal people to be humble and to be morally strong contrary to the ridicule of the prosperous people. Gray speaks about death as an equalizer of all human beings to be able to level distinctions between the upper school and the lower class. In doing so, he's then in a position to idealize and raise the common pastoral man because of their uncorrupted, though unharnessed, potential.
The poem starts with images of finishing and gloom in order to set the somber build and foreshadow fatality for the rest of the poem. Inside the first and second stanzas, Gray hints at reduction and mortality. Within the first stanza, Grey speaks about situations that are coming to a finish: a curfew bell tolling, a herd of cattle moving over the meadow, and a farmer going back home following a day's work. By mixing up descriptions of finishing with despondent wording, Grey can setup a tone of somberness and finality that remains throughout the poem. For example, "The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, / The plowman homeward plods his weary way" (1-3). What knell and weary convey this is of sadness. Knell means "the sound of any bell, specially when rung solemnly for a death or funeral" (OED Online). Grey uses this specific diction to foreshadow loss of life and sadness.
The second stanza retains the theme of somberness and closing of the first. After Grey describes the close of occurrences in the first stanza, he starts the next by describing how the landscape is becoming less obvious: "Now fades the glimm'ring scenery on the eyesight" (5). Gray continues to develop the theme of stopping through stating the increased loss of the appearance of scenery. Grey shows in the first two stanzas the finish of regular lives and then the end of dynamics. In so doing, he suggests the finish of living aspects which is transitioning into death.
After Gray alludes to fatality in the first two stanzas, he then states that loss of life is an equalizer of most humans and no person can get away from it. He observes that nothing may bring the dead back to life, no matter advantages the wealthy and the powerful had. They may be useless in the face of death. One such example is prestige: "Can Honour's tone provoke the silent particles" (43). Grey expresses that honor and glory cannot make a person get back to life. Regardless of how famous he/she is, no subject how many times these are looked upon as leaders or heroes, nothing at all can make them come back from death. Grey also talks about flattery: "Or Flatt'ry calm the dull cool ear of Death?" (44). He suggests that flattering words cannot change the mind of fatality nor pacify the procedure of dying. Gray gives types of advantages the upper class got in life but shows how they are useless in the equalizing vitality of loss of life.
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The brief and simple annals of the poor (29-32).
Gray not only personifies "ambition" and "grandeur" to refer to the determined people and the prosperous, powerful people, but his use of synecdoche emphasizes their significance on these qualities. Gray identifies these traits because they are frequently considered desirable during life because of the delight and satisfaction that employs them. However, he advises here that, ultimately, they are really worthless. Vitality and motivation won't save a person from dying. Grey gives more types of aspects and luxuries in life that not survive when confronted with fatality. It erases "heraldry", "the pomp of pow'r", and "everything beauty" (33-34). Jackets of arms that represented the powerful people imply nothing when those individuals are deceased. All of the ceremonies and parties of royalty are also obsolete. Death, Gray advises, is utter and inevitable: "The paths of glory business lead but to the grave" (36).
Although he details their humble and humble lives, Gray speaks about the unrevealed probable of the common people and their possibilities of greatness. He compares those to rough rocks/jewels: "Full many a gem of purest ray serene, The dark unfathom'd caves of sea keep" (53-54). With this line, Gray is contrasting the humble, common visitors to undiscovered jewels in the caves in the bottom of the ocean. He suggests that this potential would stay concealed and no-one would truly find their value. This collection truly epitomizes the initial and priceless talent Gray believes the common people possessed. For instance, he shows that these people had ability: "The rod of empire might have sway'd, / Or wak'd to ecstasy the living lyre" (47-48). He claims that they may have the energy and ability to lead an empire. He also says that another could have grown to be a musician so great that it would seem the device was alive. The speaker suggests that these people had potential for ambition and grandeur.
However, Grey acknowledges that without opportunity, this potential lays untapped. He thinks that if these people were given the opportunity, they might well have achieved prominence. He declares that the common people were full of ideas: "Some heart and soul once pregnant with celestial flame" (46). Grey uses the metaphor celestial open fire to describe more common people with capabilities that God intended for those to have. But, he advises this potential was never harnessed and these invisible talents were never uncovered.
Although he talks about their unharnessed potential, Gray praises the common people for not slipping to vices and suggests the evil in power and wealth. Despite their unfulfilled destinies, he talks highly of them for not dropping towards immoral pathways such as greed, betrayal, etc. He suggests that riches and prestige in the end falls to problem and other vices. Thus, Grey admires the normal people because they did not become wealthy and famous. He believes they were constrained: "Their lot forbade their crimes confin'd" (65-66). With this line, Gray points out that although the common people's circumstances restricted their opportunities, it also limited their wrongdoings. Because the common people didn't have wealth, these were not influenced by money or power-driven deeds.
After praising that they did not fall season to vices, Gray then elevates the indegent because they remained humble with the simple lives. He respects them because they continued to be happy and content with their families without money or prestige. Grey describes their pleasure when doing their careers: "How jocund did they drive their team afield! How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!" (27-28). He depicts them as cheerful people doing their work such as plowing their fields and raising vegetation to feed their families. Gray defines these folks not by their items, but by their patterns and activities. He believes they never diverged using their modest living because they accepted their lifestyle: "Their sober desires never learn'd to stray; / They kept the noiseless tenor with their way" (74-76). Gray expresses that these people did not desire to improve their quiet life-style. They remained faithful to their duty as the normal people and embodied humility. Grey idealizes these people for their humble popularity of who they are.
Ultimately, Gray's "Elegy" is a memento mori, or in other words, a reminder of mortality. This concept is recognized in Gray's elegy when the presenter walks in the cemetery. As he gazes at the gravestones, he is not only reminded of the individuals who passed on but also of his own mortality as well. As he reads the simple graves, the presenter wonders about the folks who had been buried there. Gray then elevates these common people in his poem because he is convinced that the rich and the famous have already been given attention. For example, history books focus on heroes and market leaders. Gray acknowledges in this poem that the normal people's poverty limited their opportunities and also their crimes. However, he will not speak about the never-ending opportunities that may be opened anticipated to wealth and power. Mankind idolizes the successful, and Gray idolizes the poor. However, as he implies, everyone is equivalent in loss of life.
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