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10/08/2018

How does Gray glorify the simplicity of country life?

    Conventionally, an elegy mourns the death of a very  close friend. But in  “Elegy Written in a Country  Churchyard”, instead of a single friend,  Thomas Gray mourns for all the dead villagers of stoke pages as well as for the decline of simple life. To mourn the deaths of the villagers, he compares and contrasts them with the  urban rich. In the process the simplicity of the country life has been glorified.  A sad tone to mourn the deaths of the villagers lying in their graves is set in the first few stanzas. Then, the simple, unknown villagers lying in the neglected churchyard have been contrasted with the rich, proud and ambitious people. The vanity of the sophisticated people has been ironically revealed, and in the process, the simple life of the poor ordinary people has been glorified. The “ambition” of the powerful people has been contrasted with the “homely joys” of the ordinary villagers. The “disdainful smile” of the rich has been contrasted with the “simple annals of the poor”. Similarly, the pomp of power and wealth, and the “pealing anthem” at the decorated grave of the proud people are in  contrast with the simple tombs of the villagers. The poet has used negative or disapproving epithets like “pomp of pow’r”, “disdainful smile”,  ”pealing anthem”, ”storied urn” and ”aninated bust” for the ambitious rich people . But he has used approving epithets like  “homely  joys” and ”simple annals of the poor” for the country people. His disliking for the artificiality of the boastful urban people and his sympathy for the  poor villagers become transparent when he says,  “The paths of glory lead but to the grave”.  The poet, further,  glorifies the  “rude forefathers”  by referring to the possibilities that these common people had. Given chances, perhaps some of these poor people could have been a Milton or an Oliver Cromwell or a Hampden. But these people did not have any opportunity. The poet has also compared them with the gems of the oceans and the flowers of the desert that wither away unknown. These people never killed others to grab power. They had never been ashamed of committing crimes. They were not ambitious and so they could happily fulfil their humble wishes.  Thus, the poet has glorified the dead humble villagers in  particular and the simplicity of the common life in general. His treatment of the villagers has a touch of deep pathos.

  Conventionally, an elegy mourns the death of a very  close friend. But in  “Elegy Written in a Country  Churchyard”, instead of a single friend,  Thomas Gray mourns for all the dead villagers of stoke pages as well as for the decline of simple life. To mourn the deaths of the villagers, he compares and contrasts them with the  urban rich. In the process the simplicity of the country life has been glorified.
A sad tone to mourn the deaths of the villagers lying in their graves is set in the first few stanzas. Then, the simple, unknown villagers lying in the neglected churchyard have been contrasted with the rich, proud and ambitious people. The vanity of the sophisticated people has been ironically revealed, and in the process, the simple life of the poor ordinary people has been glorified. The “ambition” of the powerful people has been contrasted with the “homely joys” of the ordinary villagers. The “disdainful smile” of the rich has been contrasted with the “simple annals of the poor”. Similarly, the pomp of power and wealth, and the “pealing anthem” at the decorated grave of the proud people are in  contrast with the simple tombs of the villagers. The poet has used negative or disapproving epithets like “pomp of pow’r”, “disdainful smile”,  ”pealing anthem”, ”storied urn” and ”aninated bust” for the ambitious rich people . But he has used approving epithets like  “homely  joys” and ”simple annals of the poor” for the country people. His disliking for the artificiality of the boastful urban people and his sympathy for the  poor villagers become transparent when he says,  “The paths of glory lead but to the grave”.
The poet, further,  glorifies the  “rude forefathers”  by referring to the possibilities that these common people had. Given chances, perhaps some of these poor people could have been a Milton or an Oliver Cromwell or a Hampden. But these people did not have any opportunity. The poet has also compared them with the gems of the oceans and the flowers of the desert that wither away unknown. These people never killed others to grab power. They had never been ashamed of committing crimes. They were not ambitious and so they could happily fulfil their humble wishes.
Thus, the poet has glorified the dead humble villagers in  particular and the simplicity of the common life in general. His treatment of the villagers has a touch of deep pathos.

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