Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard Summary The speaker is hanging out in a churchyard just after the sun goes

down. It's dark and a bit spooky. He looks at the dimly lit gravestones, but none of the grave markers are all that impressive—most of the people buried here are poor folks from the village, so their tombstones are just simple, roughly carved stones. The speaker starts to imagine the kinds of lives these dead guys probably led. Then he shakes his finger at the reader, and tells us not to get all snobby about the rough monuments these dead guys have on their tombs, since, really, it doesn't matter what kind of a tomb you have when you're dead, anyway. And guys, the speaker reminds us, we're all going to die someday. But that gets the speaker thinking about his own inevitable death, and he gets a little freaked out. He imagines that someday in the future, some random guy (a "kindred spirit") might pass through this same graveyard, just as he was doing today. And that guy might see the speaker's tombstone, and ask a local villager about it. And then he imagines what the villager might say about him. At the end, he imagines that the villager points out the epitaph engraved on the tombstone, and invites the passerby to read it for himself. So basically, Thomas Gray writes his own epitaph at the end of this poem. Lines 1-4 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.

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So, right off the bat we have some vocab to sort out in this poem. The "curfew" is a bell that rings at the end of the day, but a "knell" is a bell that rings when someone dies. So it's like the "parting day" is actually dying. Sounds like a metaphor! The mooing herd of cows makes its winding way over the meadow ("lea" = "meadows") And the tired farmer clomps on home. Now that the cows and the farmer are out of the picture, the speaker gets everything in the world to himself (he has to share it with the growing darkness, but that's not so bad). Notice that the speaker refers to himself in the first person right away in that first stanza: the parting farmer and cows leave "the world […] to me." This would be a good time to note that the poet often removes vowels and replaces them with an apostrophe, like "o'er" instead of "over" in the second line. If you ever notice an odd-looking word with an apostrophe in it, try replacing the apostrophe with a letter to make a familiar word. Gray makes these contractions to make the number of syllables fit the iambic pentameter. While we're talking about form, we'll also point out the rhyme scheme here—it's ABAB. For more on the poem's meter and rhyme scheme, check out the "Form and Meter" section.

Lines 5-8 Now fades the glimm'ring landscape on the sight, And all the air a solemn stillness holds,

Who is that outsider? Sounds like the owl is probably complaining about the presence of the speaker himself! (And we're just assuming the speaker is a "he. Must be sunset. so the speaker is saying that the tower is dressed up in ivy. except for the buzz of the occasional beetle and the tinkling bells hanging around the necks of livestock in their "folds" (a." Go to the "Symbols" section for more on these literary tools! Lines 9-12 Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such. The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep. as wand'ring near her secret bow'r. Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap. The subject and the verb of the sentence are way down there in the last line of the stanza: "The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep. and who was maybe a bit of a bumpkin. • • • • So what's happening. not an omelet with ham in it!) are impolite. and the sentence structure is a bit wacky. "Rude" is used to describe someone who was from the country. But the speaker doesn't just say that there's an owl hooting—he uses some more figurative language. More figurative language here! The speaker uses metaphor to describe the tower where the owl lives as "ivy-mantled. like everything is winding down." since those are things a person would do. barns). . so let's try to sort it out.k. not discourteous. Sounds peaceful and sleepy. The air is quiet. And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds.") • • • • Lines 13-16 Beneath those rugged elms. • • • This stanza is all one long sentence. • • Here are some more exceptions to the overall peace and quiet: the bent-out-of-shape owl is hooting.a. There are some interesting literary devices in these lines. And what's the mopey owl complaining about? Apparently. too: "solemn stillness" is a great example of alliteration. exactly? The "glimm'ring landscape" is fading from the poet's sight." (A "mantle" is a kind of cloak or coat. that yew-tree's shade. Each in his narrow cell for ever laid. too." Hold up—the speaker isn't saying that the ancestors of the town (a "hamlet" is a tiny town. but we knew that from the first stanza. and the speaker personifies the "tinkling" of the bells when he says that they're "drowsy. He personifies the owl when he says that it's "moping" and "complaining. Cool!) Because the title of the poem says that it was "written in a country churchyard.Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight. Molest her ancient solitary reign. Someone who wasn't sophisticated. impolite jerks. he's complaining that there's an outsider nearby—someone who is wandering near her private digs (a "bower" is a lady's private room) and bothering her solitude." we can guess that the "tower" mentioned here is probably the church tower. So the forefathers being described here are probably just simple country folks. not an owl.

Sounds like they're sleeping in only a metaphorical sense. speaker! We get it! They're dead. (3) The rooster's cock-a-doodle-doo ("clarion" = "alarm"). (2) No housewife is trying to take care of him after he gets home from work in the evenings. look at the third line of the stanza—they're not sleeping at home in their beds. poets used to describe children's speech as "lisping. So many lists! (1) No one is burning the hearth fire for them anymore. (3) No little kids are yelling. These graves are under elm and yew trees. the speaker wants to clarify that the sleeping guys are not going to wake up. Sounds peaceful. We're actually hanging out in the graveyard. Okay. They're sleeping in narrow cells. and there are piles of turf on each one. in the days before alarm clocks and cell phones). The cock's shrill clarion. The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed. or the echoes of a horn blown by a hunter or a shepherd.• • • • • So what are these country forefathers of the hamlet doing? They're sleeping. (1) The delicious smells of the breeze first thing in the morning ("incense" is a substance that you burn to make a room smell good). So we're not just hanging out outside of a church as the sun goes down. and they're laid in there forever." and "sire" means "father. right? Except. the speaker is really piling up the reasons it's a total bummer to be dead. the speaker tells us that none of those things are going to wake up the dead guys anymore. or the echoing horn. Those poor dead guys in the graveyard! They're really missing out! . "Daddy's home!" when he gets back from work. • • If you hadn't figured it out from the previous stanza. Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share. No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed. (A few vocab clarifications on this one: since little kids don't enunciate clearly. These guys are dead and lying in their graves in the churchyard! The first two lines of the poem set the scene. (2) Birds twittering and singing in their straw nests. Here's how he explains it: The first three lines of this stanza list different things that normally would wake a person up (at least. • • Now the speaker is listing the kinds of day-to-day pleasures that these dead guys in the graveyard aren't going to get to enjoy anymore. not just sleeping! • • Lines 21-24 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. Having listed all those things in the first three lines. Spooky! Lines 17-20 The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn. Wow.") (4) No little kids climb up onto his lap for kisses that would make their siblings envy them.

and also because he says that they're doing stuff ("mocking" and "hearing") that only people do. Same deal with the second two lines of the stanza: the speaker says that we shouldn't allow "Grandeur." or high social status. simple pleasures. what's the deal with that personification? The speaker is telling the readers that they shouldn't mock the hard work. narrow. He's sort of displacing the blame. • • • Lines 29-32 Let not Ambition mock their useful toil. You can tell because (a) he capitalizes them. "Glebe" is an archaic word for farmland. or the homely. Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile The short and simple annals of the poor. you might describe it as "stubborn. • • More figurative language. More personification! Even if you're really handy with an axe. Regular people wouldn't mock these honest guys —only Ambition would be that cruel. it seems like the speaker is personifying "Grandeur" to take the edge off of this stanza so that it won't sound like he's scolding the readers. or the unsung. like this). or jocund. "obscure" destinies of the poor farmers in the graveyard. (Rule Number 1 of Writing: If you want to earn money from your writing. These are country folks. and destiny obscure. the trees aren't going to bow down to you out of respect. The woods bowed to the stroke of their axes as they cleared forests to make their farms. but if the ground is really hard to break into. How jocund did they drive their team afield! How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke! • • • • Now the speaker imagines the kinds of things these guys did back when they were still alive. So. shallow hole that you drop seeds into. They often harvested their crops with their sickles (a sickle is a curved knife. The speaker imagines that the farmers were cheerful." Here's a pic of a plough cutting a furrow. remember (since they were described as "rude. Farmers would cut the furrow into the glebe using a plough. y'all! The speaker personifies Ambition and Grandeur in these lines. More farmer lingo in this line: the "furrow" is a long. Their homely joys. They're just going to fall over. even though he kind of is. Again. as though they were proper nouns or names. Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke. so they were farmers. to smile disdainfully or scornfully at the day-to-day accounts ("annals") of poor people." and since we know from the title that this is a "countrychurchyard"). you probably shouldn't attack the audience or make them feel bad about themselves. though.) • • • . But he doesn't come out and tell the readers to lay off the mockery—instead. as they drove their teams of oxen or mules into the field to plough.Lines 25-28 Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield. he says that they shouldn't allow "Ambition" to mock them. Maybe he doesn't want the readers to feel as though he's shaking a finger at them.

• • • • Lines 37-40 you. grand people to make fun of the poor people in the churchyard: it's because we're all heading there someday. wouldn't that be the responsibility of the families of the dead people? But of course. arched ("vaulted"). so obviously their families wouldn't be able to afford a fancy marble monument in the church itself. any ceremony designed to make people feel important but that doesn't really convey any meaning. • • The speaker has more advice to proud. ornamentally carved ("fretted") ceiling. Okay." and tells them not to blame ("impute […] the fault") these dead poor dead people if they don't have fancy monuments ("trophies") over their graves. "Pomp" means proud. • • Aha. If Mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise. too! Here are a few nitty-gritty vocab notes before we start unraveling the sentence structure of these lines: "Heraldry" is the coat of arms associated with old. aristocratic families. Last one: "inevitable" means unavoidable." The last two lines of the stanza describe the church itself—the place where the monuments might be displayed. Here's the real reason why the speaker doesn't want proud. ambitious. and 3) The beauty that can be obtained from wealth—all of those things are waiting for the unavoidable. the dead guys in the churchyard are mostly poor farmers. all that wealth e'er gave. More personification! Again. Phew. Awaits alike th' inevitable hour. What time. Where thro' the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault The pealing anthem swells the note of praise. rich. He says that "Memory" failed to put up fancy trophies or monuments. The paths of glory lead but to the grave. inevitable time. you guessed it: all of those paths lead only to the GRAVE. 2) The empty ceremony of being in a position of power. So. And all that beauty. the pomp of pow'r.Lines 33-36 The boast of heraldry. Now let's get back to the summary! The speaker starts with a list (this guy seems to be fond of lists). impute to these the fault. The bell that marks the passing of a member of the church "peals" in praise of his or her life all through the aisles of the church and up to its high. • • Lines 41-44 Can storied urn or animated bust Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? . it's like the speaker is displacing blame. meaningless ceremony—basically. Here we go: 1) Bragging about your family's heraldry. Check out this example. the speaker shifts the blame onto the personified "Memory. Families with a coat of arms would embroider it on everything from their servants' coats to the outside of their carriage to the screen in front of the fireplace. you ask? Yep. ye proud. hoity-toity people: He addresses them as "ye proud. but really.

• • • • Now the speaker is reflecting on what type of person might be lying in the unmarked graves in the churchyard Maybe. hoity-toity readers—the ones that. here) of what the speaker calls "celestial fire. is "No. [which is] rich with the spoils of time. in the churchyard. asking if they can call the dead person's breath back to the mansion of their body. that's a mouthful! Second rhetorical question: the speaker asks if the voice of "Honour" (another personification!) can provoke the silent. in the churchyard. that's another personification in the first line—the capitalized noun probably tipped you off. that the rod of empire might have sway'd. (The answer to both of those rhetorical questions." . in this case to commemorate a dead person) could call the breath back to a dead person and make him breathe again. Or someone whose hands could have played a lyre (a kind of old-school harp) so well that the lyre would have become conscious. Maybe. What could that mean? Sounds like a metaphor to us. Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage. but where's the verb? The sentence structure is wacky. or whether Flattery (another personification!) can make the cold ear of Death (yet another personification!) feel better about being dead. obviously. might have mocked the lowly farmers in the churchyard back in stanza 7. He asks them whether a fancy-schmancy urn (a container to hold a dead person's remains) or a really life-like bust (a statue of a person's head and shoulders. Or Flatt'ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death? • • • This stanza is a pair of rhetorical questions. "Celestial fire" must be a metaphor for passion. Or wak'd to ecstasy the living lyre. Let's see…if we rearrange the sentence so that it's in a more usual structure. to their eyes. That's playing a mean lyre! Lines 49-52 But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll. there lies a person whose heart was once full ("pregnant" means full. "Knowledge" is the subject of this sentence. Phew. celestial or otherwise. since no one's heart is literally full of fire. The dead person's body is a "mansion. The speaker is still addressing the proud. dusty remains of a dead person to speak again. he imagines. of course not!") • • • Lines 45-48 Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire. • • • Yep.Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust. Hands. there lies a person whose hands could have ruled an empire. here's what it would look like: "Knowledge ne'er (never) did unroll her ample page. And froze the genial current of the soul. Let's try to untangle it." Huh." and the speakerpersonifies the urn and the bust. Except he doesn't say so quite that directly—he uses a metaphor.

why are we talking about gems and flowers now? Must be more metaphor. This stanza is about unsung heroes. Could be a sign that Austen. More personification! "Penury" is being treated like a person—it's the thing that repressed and froze the dead people's potential." and both the gems and the flowers are metaphors for people who do awesome stuff that doesn't get recognized. lots of beautiful. Let's take a closer look: "Full many" is just an eighteenth-century phrase that means "lots of. And waste its sweetness on the desert air. that with dauntless breast The little tyrant of his fields withstood. The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear: Full many a flow'r is born to blush unseen. like the guys buried in the churchyard without monuments or "trophies. but they died unknown and undiscovered. Maybe there was some village-version of John Hampden who stood up to tyranny on the village green! . Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood." ("Spoils" means "plunder" or "loot. Of course. Let's check it out. Let's read on… • • • • • Lines 53-56 Full many a gem of purest ray serene. but the speaker might have a point.• • Okay. • • • • Wait. as time goes on. Well. so this is one instance when we disagree with both Wordsworth and Austen! • lines 57-60 Some village-Hampden. and. • • The speaker muses that there might be dead people buried here that could have been famous revolutionaries or poets.") But these poor guys in the graveyard never had access to all the knowledge history had to offer—those pages were never "unrolled" "to their eyes. Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest. by the irritatingly self-important Mrs. those pages get filled with more and more information—that's what the speaker calls the "spoils of time. This is a bummer." And why? Because poverty ("penury"= poverty) held back the noble parts of their characters—their passion. And another metaphor. but there's ametaphor there that needs more unraveling. thought that Gray's poetry was too formal and stilted. even their rage. Elton is not exactly known for her good taste in literature. we love Thomas Gray. now that's starting to make more sense. poverty can freeze up the current of your soul-river. pure gems are hidden away in dark caves under the ocean. And lots of flowers come into blushing bloom without a human to see and appreciate their beauty or their sweet scent. Elton. too: imagine that a person's soul is a river. like Wordsworth." So. It's as though Knowledge is a big collection of pages. since a character like Mrs. Fun fact! These lines get quoted in Emma by Jane Austen.

and it can trip you up if you're not careful. ." for standing up to the "little tyrant. The threats of pain and ruin to despise. without being able to express his brilliance. The dead villagers' situation. Their lot forbade: […] • • We've been going through the poem one stanza at a time. the guy who wrote Paradise Lost). so if we unravel the weird sentence structure. we can figure out what's going on here. The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide. To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land. Another historical note! Oliver Cromwell was the leader of the anti-royalists during the English Civil War. or "penury. Or maybe there was someone who would have wreaked as much havoc as Cromwell.) Or maybe there was someone as brilliant as John Milton (you know. but he died mute. Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride With incense kindled at the Muse's flame. Another fun fact! Both Hampden and Milton were from the same area of England where Gray was writing his "Elegy. Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne." kept them from receiving ("commanding") the applause and approval of politicians. helped bring about the execution of King Charles I. Okay. • • • • Lines 61-65 Th' applause of list'ning senates to command. And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes. He refused to pay a tax he thought was unfair. or "lot. And shut the gates of mercy on mankind. but things get a bit too wacky here. To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame. Nor could they spread good stuff ("plenty") all over the country. Nope. and not a period? Yeah. even though that would win them a place in the history books in the eyes of their countrymen. The sentence actually carries over between stanzas! This is called enjambment." So maybe Gray liked to imagine that the same area could have produced other guys who were just as brilliant." or the king. You actually have to start at the end: The dead villagers in the graveyard are replaced with the pronoun "Their" in line 65." or "fearless. too. So Gray calls him "dauntless. but their crimes confin'd. but who didn't have a chance. Their situation also made it impossible for them to blow off threats of pain and ruin. and became head of the short-lived English Commonwealth in 1649-1660. the villagers were poor and died unknown because of their poverty. but who remained unknown.• (Historical side note: the real John Hampden was a Puritan politician who opposed the policies of King Charles I. we did." as the speaker calls it in Stanza 13. and here's why: notice how Stanza 16 ends with a comma. He wasn't a popular guy in the history books at the time Gray was writing. • • • • Lines 65-72 […] nor circumscrib'd alone Their growing virtues.

With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd. they never learned to stray away from more sober. You know how when you blush. they were able to live their lives without making a lot of hubbub or noise. serious wishes and desires. And there's more metaphor here. The Muses were the goddesses in Greek and Roman mythology who were responsible for inspiring artists." The poor villagers also don't have the chance to use fancy and flattering words to build a metaphorical shrine to the personifiedLuxury and Pride. you're hiding your true feelings. Along the cool sequester'd vale of life They kept the noiseless tenor of their way. musicians. • • • • • • • • • Lines 73-76 Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife. Here are some examples of the crimes these poor villagers just don't have time to commit. Another metaphor there! Slamming the "gates of mercy" is a metaphor for being merciless. Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray. Fun fact! Thomas Hardy. it also keeps them from committing crimes.• • Again. especially when the truth is struggling and conscious of BEING the truth. So this one goes along with the previous line. Their situation likewise keeps them from trying to hide their blushes. the blush is the metaphorical flame that's getting "quenched. and poets. • • • Since the poor villagers who are buried in the churchyard live far away from the noise and strife of crowded cities. Lines 77-80 Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect. since they're busy working to put food on the table: They don't have time to wade through blood and gore to kill a king on his throne. gives a shout-out to Thomas Gray by titling one of his novels Far from the Madding Crowd. the English novelist. lit up. Implores the passing tribute of a sigh. your face feels hot? We talk about "quenching" flame. so here. You can tell your athlete friends to "shut the gates of mercy" on the other team!) The villager's lot in life keeps them from trying to hide the truth. "Ingenuous" means innocent. or to act all merciless to people. Some frail memorial still erected nigh. After all. we have to combine two stanzas because the sentence continues across the stanza break—more enjambment! Not only does the poverty of the villagers prevent ("circumscribe" = prevent) them from developing the virtues that would get them remembered in the history books. a blush indicates that you're ashamed of something. or inspired by the Muses. (Try to work that one into everyday conversation. . So the "incense" that was lit at the Muse's flame must be a pen that is metaphorically kindled. Because they live in a secluded ("sequester'd") area. right? So if you hide your blushes.

The "unlettered muse" also adds ("strews") the occasional Bible verse ("holy text") that inspires country folks to think about death so that they'll be prepared when their time comes. their years. like the villagers. ling'ring look behind? • • After all. shapeless sculptures to ornament ("deck") them. too! Being forgotten when you're dead is like being hunted down as the "prey" of a predator called "Forgetfulness. Some pious drops the closing eye requires. and are decorated with crude. the speaker asks." • Lines 89-92 On some fond breast the parting soul relies. So there! Lines 81-84 Their name. flimsy memorials nearby. and even this simple inscription was clearly made by someone who was largely illiterate. who is going to give up ("resign") their life ("being"). and some morepersonification." Sounds scary! Finally. which is both pleasing and anxious. But even though the memorials aren't all fancy. without looking behind them at what they leave behind—especially someone who. This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd. Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries. ling'ring look. • • • • • The "frail" monuments (78) are engraved only with the dead people's name and the years of their birth and death. we get more alliteration here. spelt by th' unletter'd muse. uncouth poetry. The place of fame and elegy supply: And many a holy text around she strews. they at least still have frail. That teach the rustic moralist to die. . Lines 85-88 For who to dumb Forgetfulness a prey. how could they be unlettered or illiterate? These simple inscriptions take the place of fame and fancy elegies (poems written in memory of dead people)." Since the muses were goddesses of poetry. Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day. Nor cast one longing. is going to be forgotten when he or she is dead? We get another metaphor here in line 85. Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires. or to leave the warm environment of the earth. with the repeated beginning L sound in "longing." The speaker uses irony when he says that inscription was made by a "muse.• • • Even though these poor villagers don't have big fancy monuments or "trophies" over their graves. "She" is the muse referred to in the previous line. or "unlettered. if only to protect their remains from the insult of having people picnic or play cricket on their graves. they still inspire passersby to pause long enough to sigh. These flimsy memorials aren't made out of fancy marble—they just have rough.

death). That voice of Nature calls out from the grave. Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate. if a random passerby happened to ask. . and with somealliteration thrown in while he's at it ("Haply some hoary-headed" and "swain […] say")! Probably some gray-haired ("hoary-headed") farmer guy ("swain") would say that they had often seen the speaker hurrying through the dew-covered grass to watch the sun come up on the meadow lawn. who mindful of th' unhonour'd Dead Dost in these lines their artless tale relate. Lines 93-100 For thee. or their remains. might ask about the speaker's fate. Spanish. It's only natural. and the villagers' accustomed passions (their "wonted fires") live on in their ashes. so he's memorializing them in these very lines of poetry. • • • • Lines 101-104 "There at the foot of yonder nodding beech That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high. who happened to be musing on similar things (i. so what's our speaker actually saying to himself? He's saying that he is aware ("mindful") of the dead people who haven't been honored with lots of monuments. and many other languages that have two versions of "you. by lonely contemplation led." And it makes sense that if the poet is addressing himself. Then the speaker wonders what would happen if some random kindred spirit." (Fun grammar fact: most modern readers think of "thee" and "thou" as an old-fashioned. • • • • Look.. They need some pious.• • • • Even simple. "Nature" is—you guessed it— being personified!). And pore upon the brook that babbles by." English used to have a formal and an informal way of saying "you. after all—it's the "voice of Nature" (yep. fancy-pants version of "you. • The speaker continues to imagine what the "hoary-headed swain" would say about him. poor. He answers this question in the next stanza. religious friend or neighbor to close their eyes for them as they die. more enjambment! The same sentence continues across a stanza break. His listless length at noontide would he stretch.e. Haply some hoary-headed swain may say." But no! It's not fancy-pants at all! "Thee" and "thou" were actually informal or more intimate versions of "you. so we'll look at both stanzas at once. If chance." Like French. gang. he'd use the more informal way of doing so. country folks like the villagers in the churchyard depend on their loved ones as they die (or as their souls "part" from the world).) Okay. "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. The speaker refers to himself in these lines—he's calling himself "thee.

underneath the gnarly old thornbush. Sounds like something's up… • Lines 113-116 "The next with dirges due in sad array Slow thro' the church-way path we saw him borne. and that they saw the speaker carried slowly along the path to the church in a funeral procession. • .) The villager goes on to say that another day passed. Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn. • • • This stanza continues with what the speaker imagines an old villager would say about him after he was dead and gone. Another came. the speaker would smile almost scornfully." • • The speaker continues to imagine what an old villager would say about him after his death: And on the third day after the speaker didn't show up. now smiling as in scorn. Good times! Lines 109-112 "One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill. He imagines the old guy saying that the speaker used to rove. The villager invites the random passerby who asked (the "kindred spirit" of line 96) to read the epitaph that is engraved on the speaker's tombstone. woeful wan. the old villager says that dirges (funeral songs) were played.• He imagines the old guy saying that at noon. like he was anxious or else hopelessly in love with someone who didn't love him back. the speaker used to stretch out at the foot of the old beech tree—the one that has fantastically weird roots—and that he would stare at the babbling brook. and sometimes he would look all droopy and mopey. or wander. or by the woods. and yet he still didn't see the speaker by the brook ("rill") or on the grass. Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay. "Listless length" in line 103 is another great example ofalliteration. pale ("wan") with sorrow. or cross'd in hopeless love. like one forlorn. in the nearby woods. while muttering to himself. nor at the wood was he. nor yet beside the rill. Nor up the lawn. Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove. • • The speaker continues to imagine what the old villager might say about him after he's dead and gone: He imagines the villager saying that he missed seeing the speaker one morning in the usual place on a local hillside. Along the heath and near his fav'rite tree. Sometimes. (This is probably the beech tree mentioned in Stanza 26. along the fields ("heath") by the speaker's favorite tree. Now drooping. Or craz'd with care. • Lines 105-108 Hard by yon wood.

(There they alike in trembling hope repose) The bosom of his Father and his God. a tear. • • • • Now we're supposed to imagine that we. He gain'd from Heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend. too—you can tell because all those nouns (Fame. The speaker gave everything he had to his depression.Lines 117-120 THE EPITAPH Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown. like the "kindred spirit" who asked about the dead speaker. Fortune." The speaker calls himself a young person who is unknown both to Fortune (i. And don't try to dig up any dirt on his bad points. But at least he was no stranger to knowledge. Science. in spite of his humble origins. • • • • He might have had humble beginnings. Lines 125-128 No farther seek his merits to disclose. his tears. alas. • • Don't try to find out anything more about the dead speaker's good points. • • • • Lines 121-124 Large was his bounty. Morbid? Yes.e. he was of humble birth. that's a metaphor! Dead people don't really "rest their heads" anywhere—they're dead. Let's see what it says… This is where the speaker is resting his head on the ground. good luck or wealth—it could mean either) and to Fame. Heav'n did a recompense as largely send: He gave to Mis'ry all he had. we have to admit. Richard West (see the "In a Nutshell" section for more on that). In other words. or (aspersonified here) Misery—in other words. Fun fact: The speaker's probably referring to his BFF. But Heaven gave him something pretty awesome: a friend. Or draw his frailties from their dread abode. And Melancholy mark'd him for her own. He was a scholar and a poet! But. . Melancholy) are capitalized. are reading Thomas Gray's imagined epitaph.. We get more personification here. after all. or frailties. Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth. And "Earth" is beingpersonified when the speaker imagines that it could have a "lap. either. and his soul sincere. he was sometimes kinda depressed. or science. But kind of cool. and Heaven paid him back (sent a "recompense") for those good qualities. Yes. but he did pretty well for himself—he was generous and sincere.

The actual meaning of the word ‘Ecology’ is not followed here but the poet seems to convey the thought that a particular kind of tree may have both negative and positive factors and therefore it need not be pulled down. in heaven with God. you ask? Both his good and his bad points are in "repose. which is caused by the fragrance of the pollen of the flower of the Red Champak every time it is in bloom. The yellow pollen fog is the yellow dust of pollen carried in the air which is thick and heavy like fog which covers the earth. the harsh sounds produced when new shoes are worn. an instance of the use of irony because she is very angry at the idea of having the tree cut down. especially his mother who is self sacrificing. ‘Second Sight’. each stanza has one particular idea. This poem portrays Ramanujan’s strong interest in the family as a very important theme of his poetic craft. Ecology. . often causing a person to vomit. the human voices. That's why not. But they cannot stop the fog of pollen dust from the Champak trees. The loving son therefore decides to cut down the tree. The fragrance is heavy and suffocating as the yellow pollen spreads everywhere. Even the doors of the speaker’s house cannot prevent the strong smell from entering the house. ‘Ecology is a poem which could be read as one single sentence. ‘Flash her temper’. She has a kind of emotional attachment to the tree. sights. There is also a reference to his Hindu heritage as he mentions the gods and the ancient beliefs in the poem. However. published in 1986. although the tree would give a terrible migraine to one line of cousins as a legacy.A. She says that the tree is as old as her and had been fertilized by the droppings of a passing bird by chance which is considered to be a very good omen. The positive side of it is that the tree provides many basketful of flowers to be offered to her gods and to ‘her daughters and daughter’s daughters’ every year. The speaker seems to be the poet himself or some imaginary person who is loyally devoted to his mother." or resting. a very bad kind of headache.Ramanujan This poem. ‘Ecology’ is taken from Ramanujan’s third volume of poems. The walls of the house are able to absorb almost everything-the sounds. He is very angry because his mother has a severe attack of migraine. but he is prevented from doing so by his mother who sees the positive side of the tree in her garden. His memories of the past would inevitably bring pictures of his family. There is a casual connection between the ideas and they flow from one stanza to the next.• Why not.K. saying that it is as old as herself. The sense of irony is indicated when the mother very angrily protests the idea of cutting down the tree even though she is suffering very badly from the migraine caused by it. hoping for eternal life.

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