What is the meaning of the 23rd stanza of "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The four lines of the twenty-third stanza of "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" are

"On some fond breast the parting soul relies,

Some pious drops the closing eye requires;

Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,

Ev'n in our Ashes live their wonted Fires".

These lines speak of the universal need on the part of the dead to be mourned and remembered.  The dying rely on the living to keep their memory alive; the "closing eye" of the person at the point of death has a fundamental need for the "pious drops", or tears, of those left behind who mourn their passing.  The longing of the dead to be remembered reaches from beyond the grave, "ev'n from the tomb".  Some translators have interpreted the last line of the stanza to mean that the memory of the dead, along with their yearnings, actually live on in those of us who remain in tangible form on earth.

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