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What are some neo-classical features in Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country...
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In his "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," Thomas Gray employs the neo-classical use of personification in his poem of strict iambic pentameter with eloquent classical diction. There is a compliance and conformity to the classical form of an elegy as Gray gives his individual estimate of the world, which is, however, a Romantic expression.
The pace of iambic pentameter [an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable 5 times--ta dum, ta dum, ta dum, ta dum, ta dum] is dignified, and Gray makes skillful use of monosyllabic words and long vowels in his elegy. The following stanza is an example:
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,/Their sober wishes never learned to stray;/Along the cool, sequestered vale of life/They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Personification is also a neo-classical trait which Gray utilizes:
The boast of hearldry, the pomp of power,/And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,/Awaits alike the inevitable hour:/The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Of course, this elegy which laments the dead, evokes the classical idea of momento mori, a Latin phrase meaning "Remember that you must die." Death comes to all, the exalted and the humble; Gray reflects upon the lives of the common people buried in the churchyard, lives spent doing labor with simple enjoyments at the end of the day.
Posted by mwestwood on June 5, 2009 at 1:40 AM (Answer #1)
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