Thomas Gray's poem "Elegy Written in a Country Courtyard" is a sorrowful poem. The speaker in the poem is observing a cemetery, where he sees a variety of people "each in his narrow cell for ever laid." The mood of the poem from the onset is both sad and contemplative. Elegies, as a general rule, are written to lament the dead, and are normally quite mournful.
The speaker starts off describing both the countryside, and the things the dead will no longer see or hear. The speaker states:
The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
This gives both a visual and auditory description of the world that has been lost to the dead. They shall never wake again. The speaker sounds wistful.
The common thread that seems to tie all of the people together in the graveyard is their mediocrity. The speaker describes their lives as quite simple:
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
This shows the dead lying in the cemetery have lived quiet lives. The speaker thinks of all the mundane lives of the dead, and believes we can "read their history in a nation's eyes."
Toward the end of the poem it seems the speaker is possibly contemplating his own life and death. He uses words like "lonely" and "longing" to bring forth a solitary feel, reminiscent of the solitude experienced in death. The poem goes on to an epitaph, which we can presume to be the speaker's.
Throughout the poem, the speaker remains quite morose and introspective. He does not feel extreme passion for the dead in the cemetery he speaks of because he does not know them. He mourns both our mortality in general, and his own death, which is also inevitable.