In Thomas Gray's poem, "Elegy in a Country Churchyard," the author's primary focus is on the "equalization" of death. He notes that regardless of how important one is, all life ends in death.
The common man and woman will find joy in family, but still will find death at the end of their days:
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Thomas Gray points out that while the common man will face death some day, the same fate waits for those of power and importance:
The boast of heraldry, 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.
Gray seems to infer that it is not how one was perceived by others that matters at the end of one's life, but the manner in which a person led his or her life. Here, then, is Gray's sense of redemption, the hope or solace he finds in confronting, most likely, his own death. Gray indicates that he is a man of faith who believes in a life after the grave. This is not clearly evident until the reader reaches the section of the poem entitled, "The Epitaph." We might easily assume, by the end of the poem, that Gray is writing this for himself. If this is truly the case, he hopes that after death, God will find in his time on earth, a life well-led.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Misery all he had, a tear,
He gained from Heaven ('twas all he wished) a
The author notes a "soul sincere;" he also describes a giving, sympathetic heart:
He gave to Misery all he had, a tear...
The poem notes that the subject of the epitaph gains a friend in Heaven—all that he wanted—which means that Heaven smiled down on the man because of the good deeds he had done and the way he cared for others.
In the final stanza, the author speaks of what is left of the dead man:
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose)
The bosom of his Father and his God.
The man at rest will no longer practice virtuous behavior; his frailties lie with him in the grave: both "alike in trembling hope repose"—both wait for judgment, hoping that the merits will be rewarded and the frailties forgiven. His spirit is hoping to be embraced by his "Father and his God." One in the same, the dead man hopes that God will take him into heaven regardless of his mistakes, but mindful of all he did to please Heaven while living here on Earth. This is the Gray's solace—his hope...that he will be redeemed ("released from blame or death").