What are some of the "sound devices" used in  "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray?

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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In his famous "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," Thomas Gray uses several forms of poetic "sound devices."  Here are some examples.

1. Alliteration: The repetition of initial consonant sounds.

Line 2: "The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea"

Line 4: "The plowman homeward plods his weary way"

Line 28: "How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke"

2. Rhyme:

In most places, Gray uses standard, "full" rhyme: day-lea, sight-flight, holds-folds, complain, reign, etc.

Occasionally, though, Gray uses partial rhymes.

Lines 29,31: toil, smile

Lines 30, 32: obscure, poor

Lines 58, 60: withstood, blood

Some of these may indicate that Gray's pronunciation was different than our contemporary pronunciation.  In other cases , he may simply be "stretching" his rhymes.

Onomatopoeia: words that imitate a sound (moo, meow, etc.)

I have not been able to find examples of onomatopoeia in Gray's "Elegy."  At first, I thought that the words "tolls," "knell," and "lowing," might be onomatopoeic, but the dictionaries I consulted do not seem to agree with this theory.


bmarie1581's profile pic

bmarie1581 | Student | (Level 1) eNoter

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jmj616 - I've got a book that gives an example of an onomatopoeia it does confirm your idea. "The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea" because the word "lowing" suggests cows mooing.

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