Graveyard Poets Criticism: Major Works - Essay

Isabel St. John Bliss (essay date 1934)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Bliss, Isabel St. John. “Young's Night Thoughts in Relation to Contemporary Christian Apologetics.” PMLA, 49 (March 1934): 37-70.

[In the following essay, Bliss maintains that Young's poem is much more than just a piece about death, and should be considered an expression of Christian apologetics.]

An understanding of the purposes and the popularity of Young's Night Thoughts is possible only through a realization of their relation to contemporary currents of thought. For the most part critics have confined their attention to the so-called personal element and the treatment of the theme of death, and have neglected perhaps the most outstanding...

(The entire section is 14765 words.)

Thomas Woodman (essay date 1934)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Woodman, Thomas. “Poems on Several Occasions III: ‘A Hymn to Contentment,’ ‘A Night Piece on Death,’ and ‘The Hermit.’” In Thomas Parnell, 67-85. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1934.

[In the following essay, Woodman discusses Parnell's three most famous pieces and argues that although they have many aspects to them, he wrote them, most of all, with a Christian purpose in mind.]

Pope ends his selection of Parnell's poems with “A Night Piece on Death,” “A Hymn to Contentment,” and “The Hermit.” All three have a Christian seriousness and solemnity of tone, and it was appropriate, in Pope's view, that the volume should rise to this height....

(The entire section is 6491 words.)

Cecil V. Wicker (essay date 1952)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Wicker, Cecil V. “Young's Fear of Death; Evidence from the Night Thoughts.” In Edward Young and the Fear of Death: A Study of Romantic Melancholy, 66-79. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1952.

[In the following essay, Wicker argues that Young's personal fear of death permeates Night Thoughts, and that while his hope of immortality is evident, his uncertainty runs throughout his work.]

Pursue thy theme, and fight the fear of Death.

Night Thoughts, Night IV

Young's most important work, The Complaint; or, Night Thoughts, has been left for separate consideration, since it is here that the dread...

(The entire section is 4535 words.)

W. Hutchings (essay date 1984)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hutchings, W. “Syntax of Death: Instability in Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.Studies in Philology 81, no. 4 (1984): 496-514.

[In the following essay, Hutchings attempts to demonstrate that the ambiguous syntax used by Gray when referring to death creates much uncertainty for the reader.]

The curfew tolls! the knell of parting day!

Joseph Warton's startling emendation of one of the most famous opening lines in English poetry looks like the work of a rather too eager enthusiast.1 He may, however, have simply wanted to tidy up what Gray had left oddly unclear. He has removed the transitive function of...

(The entire section is 7279 words.)