Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard Questions and Answers
by Thomas Gray

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard book cover
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What is the scene in the churchyard given in lines 1-20 of "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard"?

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The setting presented in the first twenty lines of "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" is of a graveyard at twilight.  The scene is set beautifully with the church bell ringing the ending of the day while the cows head home.  Everything is still except for the night life of the insects and owls.  Suddenly, in line 13 and beyond, Gray reveals that this somber beauty is actually contained not just within the churchyard, but within the graveyard for the farmers of the hamlet.  We find that the bell ringing at the beginning of the poem may have been a funeral knell, which leads us into a more somber tone.  Although the swallow continues his song, these people, of course, will not rise.  The poem in itself is a beautiful combination of beauty and sadness.  Gray's poem is truly a perfect example of pre-Romantic poetry.

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