illustration of a country churchyward with a variety of gravestones

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

by Thomas Gray

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"Far From The Madding Crowd's Ignoble Strife"

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 110

Context: Gray's admiration for the simple people buried in the churchyard appears again and again throughout the poem. He admires their industry and their many homely virtues. He regrets that "Knowledge" never did unroll "to their eyes her ample page,/ Rich with the spoils of time." They were as they were because "Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,/ And froze the genial current of the soul." Even so, they were happy in their bucolic surroundings and did not wish to be elsewhere:

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.

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