Question: How does Thomas Gray glorify the common men in his elegy “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”?
Elegy is a mournful poem regarding the death of the nearest and dearest one. “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” by Thomas Gray (1716-1771) is an elegy as to the death of simple villagers who are nearest and dearest to the poet. In this poem, the poet has glorified the simple villagers for the pure leading style.
Appreciation of the dead
The fundamental feature of an elegy is a mournful atmosphere and evaluation of the dead. Like other famous elegies of English literature, Thomas Gray has glorified the dead villagers in an outstanding way. He makes a comparative and contrasting study between the simple villagers and rich urban people.
Defense against the objection of the Rich
Gray is one of the elegy writers of English literature. He depicts the simple lifestyle of the villagers but he is very strict to warn the high ambitious urban people not to mock the simple life of the villagers. He relates that the boastful and powerful way of life cannot prevent death as death is inevitable for all.
“The paths of glory lead but to the grave”
So, the poor villagers are simple and free from high ambition which makes them happy to imbibe life fully.
More Notes of Poetry
Free from corruption
The poet glorifies the villagers as human beings who are free from corruption. Behind the history of empire and wealthy people, there is an abominable history of corruption and tyranny. As the villagers were happy in the banal way of their life, they were blessed with heavenly pleasure.
“Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire”
The latent talent of the villagers Gray has compared the villagers in the following lines:
“Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom’d caves of the ocean bear…….”
By such comparison, he means to say that the talent of these poor dead villagers was not tiny but extreme penury did not allow them to disclose their merit. They could be politicians and poets like Milton if they got the opportunity. They had died like the unseen bloomed flowers of the desert or deep forest. This appreciation provides a universal message that there is no price of talent if there is no opportunity to flourish and expose this.
Thomas Grays’ Philosophy as to life and criticism of life by the power of poetry are limned by the glorifying appreciation of villagers’ talent, honesty, and banal way of life.