illustration of a country churchyward with a variety of gravestones

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

by Thomas Gray
Start Free Trial

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

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

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.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team