Explain the poem "The Country Churchyard".  

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The only poem that I could find which references a country church-yard is Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard".  This poem is historically the most famous of the 18th century elegy poems written by one of the Graveyard Poets.

The poem is a typical elegy poem. Elegy poems were mournful and lamenting (normally used in funerals). The elegy contains three specific elements: lament, praise, and then consolation. The lament section of the poem details the grief the survivor of the lost feels.  The praise section offers praise for the deceased. The consolation section offers closure for the speaker regarding the loss of the loved one they are suffering from.

"Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" is typical of the 18th century elegy poem (just simply does not follow the sectioning of most elegies). While the beginning of the poem simply describes the surroundings of the speaker, it still details the setting of a mournful and grieving place:

And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimm'ring landscape on the sight,

After describing his surroundings, the speaker begins to think about more specific thoughts about the dead- his own.  Here, the poem moves into a more typical aspect seen in elegy poetry. The speaker's thoughts focus on the excesses associated with different things in the world:

Full many a flow'r is born to blush unseen

After the excess of the world are examined, the speaker's thoughts move to his own end and how those who have past want to be remembered.

Prior to the epitaph that ends the poem, the speaker describes the grave site of the poet whose tombstone he is standing over and the end of the life of the poet.

Depending on which version of the poem your are reading, there is another stanza which proceeds the epitaph. This stanza discusses the inevitable fate that all mankind will meet: death.

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