Cover image of Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard Metaphor Activity

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard Metaphor Activity

by eNotes

  • Release Date: February 11, 2020
  • Subjects: Language Arts and Literature
  • Age Levels: Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12, and Grade 9
  • Pages: 9
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Document Details


This activity gives students an opportunity to practice examining and analyzing metaphors. Metaphors express images, emotions, actions, experiences, and nuances through direct and indirect comparisons, allowing readers to access deeper levels of meaning in the text. In this activity, students will classify and analyze different kinds of metaphors in order to develop close reading skills and draw inferences from the text.

In “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” arguably the finest elegy in English literature and Thomas Gray’s most famous work, the speaker lingers by the simple graves of country folk buried near a village church. In the gathering twilight, he contemplates how they lived their lives and meditates on the nature of death itself. Gray employs numerous metaphors in the poem in describing the setting, contrasting the villagers’ simple lives with those of the rich and powerful, and depicting death as a shared human experience, regardless of one’s station in life.

Skills: analysis, drawing inferences from text, close reading, identifying the relationship between words

Learning Objectives:
In completing this activity, students will

  • examine metaphors in a text;
  • classify metaphors in a text as direct and indirect;
  • analyze metaphors by focusing on the two things being compared and interpreting how one of them is described through the comparison.


Our eNotes Classroom Activities give students opportunities to practice developing a variety of skills. Whether analyzing literary devices or interpreting connotative language, students will work directly with the text. The main components of our classroom activities include the following:

  • A handout defining the literary elements under discussion, complete with examples
  • A step-by-step guide to activity procedure
  • An answer key or selected examples for reference, depending on the activity

In completing these classroom activities, students will be able to classify and analyze different literary elements, thereby developing close-reading skills and drawing deeper inferences from the text.

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