As the narrator visits the graveyard of a country church, he muses on the people who lie buried there. He speaks of them as poor, hard working people who have lived and died without wealth or political power, missed and mourned only by their families. In speaking of these country people, he contrasts their lives in the country with the lives of those in the city. The contrast is developed primarily in lines 45-75.
Although the narrator stands in the quiet, beautiful natural surroundings, he notes that those who lived in the country led limited, uneducated lives. Because of where they lived, their potential could not be fulfilled. "Full many a flower is born to blush unseen / And waste its sweetness on the desert air." He wonders how many potentially great, but never realized, poets and political leaders might lie beneath his feet. However, he then acknowledges that the limited country life also stifled any potential to do harm, "their crimes confined." The narrator finally concludes that the city is the place where the "madding" crowd lives in "ignoble" strife, while the country is "the cool sequestered vale of life."
The narrator finds positive and negative aspects both in city life and in country life. The country offers a peaceful but limited existence. The city offers education and opportunity, but the atmosphere is frenzied, maddening, and less than noble.
The rime difference that the apoet notes between city life and country life in this poem, is the predominance of education and knowledge. The poet conveys that it is knowledge which plays an instrumet roles in the virues as well as the vices that the city people possess and indulge in, respectively.
People living in the city, who are exposed to fame and fortune are recognised for their talents, for their beauty and are characterised by a large amount of wealth. Conversely, the individuals living in the country live lives that are more ovscure, closer to nature.