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Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard - Poem by Thomas Gray

The Curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;

Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as, wand'ring near her secret bow'r,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude Forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.

Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke:
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour:
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Nor you, ye Proud, impute to These the fault,
If Memory o'er their Tomb no Trophies raise,
Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flatt'ry soothe the dull cold ear of death?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Some village Hampden that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.

Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,

Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone
Their glowing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.

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 tenor of their way.

Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.

For who, to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing ling'ring look behind?

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Ev'n in our Ashes live their wonted Fires.

For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,

Haply some hoary-headed Swain may say,
'Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.

'There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.

'Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove,
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.

'One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
Along the heath and near his fav'rite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;

'The next with dirges due in sad array
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne.
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay
Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn:'


Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A Youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heav'n did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Mis'ry all he had, a tear,
He gain'd from Heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose,)
The bosom of his Father and his God.

Comments about Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray

  • Gold Star - 57,514 Points Michael Walker (8/25/2019 9:04:00 PM)

    This is one poem I remember learning at high school,
    so it must have made an impact.
    'Full many a flower is born to blush unseen/ And waste its sweetness on the desert air'.
    (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Rookie yagna (1/31/2019 9:53:00 AM)

    It is so long and a bit boring but it is really nice poem (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • Rookie This is America (1/8/2019 11:57:00 AM)

    Why is so booooorrrrrriiiiiiinnnnnngggg. (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • Rookie someone (11/21/2018 5:20:00 AM)

    boring why do we do this (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • Rookie Dodi_Diugh (10/24/2018 5:46:00 PM)

    Booooooooooooooooooooooooooooruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuungggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Rookie Abby Harrington (10/23/2018 9:20:00 PM)


    1 person liked.
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  • Rookie SUNSH (10/2/2018 1:04:00 PM)


    1 person liked.
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  • Rookie sunshine (10/2/2018 1:02:00 PM)

    booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnn ggggggggggggggggggggggggggg (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Rookie fgfghg (9/28/2018 4:37:00 AM)

    ghgyhjvgyjvg bvbvhbhbhvbvbvbbbhvvvvvvvv b b b b (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
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  • Rookie Mr. Beckwith (4/13/2018 8:45:00 AM)

    Math is Important, for some reason. *´◒* ͡° ͜ʖ ͡° (Report) Reply

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Read all 35 comments »
Elegy Poems
  1. 1. Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard
    Thomas Gray
  2. 2. Elegy
    Dylan Thomas
  3. 3. Duino Elegies: The First Elegy
    Rainer Maria Rilke
  4. 4. Elegy For Jane
    Theodore Roethke
  5. 5. Elegy In April And September
    Wilfred Owen
  6. 6. An Imperial Elegy
    Wilfred Owen
  7. 7. Duino Elegies: The Tenth Elegy
    Rainer Maria Rilke
  8. 8. Elegy To The Memory Of An Unfortunate Lady
    Alexander Pope
  9. 9. A Satirical Elegy On The Death Of A Late..
    Jonathan Swift
  10. 10. Elegy Xix: To His Mistress Going To Bed
    John Donne
  11. 11. Duino Elegies: The Fourth Elegy
    Rainer Maria Rilke
  12. 12. An Elegy On The Death Of Kenneth Patchen
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  13. 13. Elegy In The Classroom
    Anne Sexton
  14. 14. An Elegy On The Death Of A Mad Dog
    Oliver Goldsmith
  15. 15. Elegy Xvi: On His Mistress
    John Donne
  16. 16. Elegy I
    Rainer Maria Rilke
  17. 17. Elegy Xviii: Love's Progress
    John Donne
  18. 18. Elegy X
    Rainer Maria Rilke
  19. 19. Elegy I: Jealousy
    John Donne
  20. 20. Elegy X: The Dream
    John Donne
  21. 21. Elegy In A Country Churchyard
    Gilbert Keith Chesterton
  22. 22. Elegy Xiii: His Parting From Her
    John Donne
  23. 23. Elegy
    Carolyn Forché
  24. 24. March Elegy
    Anna Akhmatova
  25. 25. Elegy V: His Picture
    John Donne
  26. 26. Elegy Iv: The Perfume
    John Donne
  27. 27. Elegy V
  28. 28. Elegy Ix: The Autumnal
    John Donne
  29. 29. Elegy Ii: The Anagram
    John Donne
  30. 30. Elegy Vii
    John Donne
  31. 31. From The Tenth Elegy
    Rainer Maria Rilke
  32. 32. Elegy
    Siegfried Sassoon
  33. 33. Elegy Iv
    Rainer Maria Rilke
  34. 34. Elegy Viii: The Comparison
    John Donne
  35. 35. Elegy Iii: Change
    John Donne
  36. 36. Elegy Upon Tiger
    Jonathan Swift
  37. 37. Elegy To Time
    Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel ..
  38. 38. An Elegy On A Lap-Dog
    John Gay
  39. 39. Elegy Vi
    John Donne
  40. 40. An Elegy In Frost
    Sandra Fowler
  41. 41. Elegy
    Alan Dugan
  42. 42. Elegy Xvi: The Expostulation
    John Donne
  43. 43. Elegy
    Joseph Brodsky
  44. 44. Elegy For Tibullus
  45. 45. Elegy Before Death
    Edna St. Vincent Millay
  46. 46. Elegy
    Edna St. Vincent Millay
  47. 47. Elegy
    Ambrose Bierce
  48. 48. An Elegy Upon James Therburn, In Chatto
    James Thomson
  49. 49. Elegy Xvii: On His Mistress
    John Donne
  50. 50. Elegy To The Old Man Hokuju
    Yosa Buson

New Elegy Poems

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  6. AN ELEGY, Mirta Rosenberg
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  8. The Elegy In A Man's Throat, king adams
  9. Candlebra - Christianity And Neoclassici.., Gayathri B. Seetharam
  10. On A Springtime Production Of Ionesco's .., Mary Angela Douglas

Elegy Poems

  1. Elegy In April And September

    Hush, thrush! Hush, missen-thrush, I listen... I heard the flush of footsteps through the loose leaves, And a low whistle by the water's brim. Still! Daffodil! Nay, hail me not so gaily,- Your gay gold lily daunts me and deceives, Who follow gleams more golden and more slim. Look, brook! O run and look, O run! The vain reeds shook? - Yet search till gray sea heaves, And I will stray among these fields for him. Gaze, daisy! Stare through haze and glare, And mark the hazardous stars all dawns and eves, For my eye withers, and his star wanes dim. 2 Close, rose, and droop, heliotrope, And shudder, hope! The shattering winter blows. Drop, heliotrope, and close, rose... Mourn, corn, and sigh, rye. Men garner you, but youth's head lies forlorn. Sigh, rye, and mourn, corn... Brood, wood, and muse, yews, The ways gods use we have not understood. Muse, yews, and brood, wood...

  2. Elegy

    Too proud to die; broken and blind he died The darkest way, and did not turn away, A cold kind man brave in his narrow pride On that darkest day, Oh, forever may He lie lightly, at last, on the last, crossed Hill, under the grass, in love, and there grow Young among the long flocks, and never lie lost Or still all the numberless days of his death, though Above all he longed for his mother's breast Which was rest and dust, and in the kind ground The darkest justice of death, blind and unblessed. Let him find no rest but be fathered and found, I prayed in the crouching room, by his blind bed, In the muted house, one minute before Noon, and night, and light. the rivers of the dead Veined his poor hand I held, and I saw Through his unseeing eyes to the roots of the sea. (An old tormented man three-quarters blind, I am not too proud to cry that He and he Will never never go out of my mind. All his bones crying, and poor in all but pain, Being innocent, he dreaded that he died Hating his God, but what he was was plain: An old kind man brave in his burning pride. The sticks of the house were his; his books he owned. Even as a baby he had never cried; Nor did he now, save to his secret wound. Out of his eyes I saw the last light glide. Here among the liught of the lording sky An old man is with me where I go Walking in the meadows of his son's eye On whom a world of ills came down like snow. He cried as he died, fearing at last the spheres' Last sound, the world going out without a breath: Too proud to cry, too frail to check the tears, And caught between two nights, blindness and death. O deepest wound of all that he should die On that darkest day. oh, he could hide The tears out of his eyes, too proud to cry. Until I die he will not leave my side.)

  3. Elegy For Jane

    (My student, thrown by a horse) I remember the neckcurls, limp and damp as tendrils; And her quick look, a sidelong pickerel smile; And how, once started into talk, the light syllables leaped for her. And she balanced in the delight of her thought, A wren, happy, tail into the wind, Her song trembling the twigs and small branches. The shade sang with her; The leaves, their whispers turned to kissing, And the mould sang in the bleached valleys under the rose. Oh, when she was sad, she cast herself down into such a pure depth, Even a father could not find her: Scraping her cheek against straw, Stirring the clearest water. My sparrow, you are not here, Waiting like a fern, making a spiney shadow. The sides of wet stones cannot console me, Nor the moss, wound with the last light. If only I could nudge you from this sleep, My maimed darling, my skittery pigeon. Over this damp grave I speak the words of my love: I, with no rights in this matter, Neither father nor lover.

  4. Duino Elegies: The First Elegy

    Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels' hierarchies? and even if one of them suddenly pressed me against his heart, I would perish in the embrace of his stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure and are awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us. Each single angel is terrifying. And so I force myself, swallow and hold back the surging call of my dark sobbing. Oh, to whom can we turn for help? Not angels, not humans; and even the knowing animals are aware that we feel little secure and at home in our interpreted world. There remains perhaps some tree on a hillside daily for us to see; yesterday's street remains for us stayed, moved in with us and showed no signs of leaving. Oh, and the night, the night, when the wind full of cosmic space invades our frightened faces. Whom would it not remain for -that longed-after, gently disenchanting night, painfully there for the solitary heart to achieve? Is it easier for lovers? Don't you know yet ? Fling out of your arms the emptiness into the spaces we breath -perhaps the birds will feel the expanded air in their more ferven flight. Yes, the springtime were in need of you. Often a star waited for you to espy it and sense its light. A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past, or as you walked below an open window, a violin gave itself to your hearing. All this was trust. But could you manage it? Were you not always distraught by expectation, as if all this were announcing the arrival of a beloved? (Where would you find a place to hide her, with all your great strange thoughts coming and going and often staying for the night.) When longing overcomes you, sing of women in love; for their famous passion is far from immortal enough. Those whom you almost envy, the abandoned and desolate ones, whom you found so much more loving than those gratified. Begin ever new again the praise you cannot attain; remember: the hero lives on and survives; even his downfall was for him only a pretext for achieving his final birth. But nature, exhausted, takes lovers back into itself, as if such creative forces could never be achieved a second time. Have you thought of Gaspara Stampa sufficiently: that any girl abandoned by her lover may feel from that far intenser example of loving: "Ah, might I become like her!" Should not their oldest sufferings finally become more fruitful for us? Is it not time that lovingly we freed ourselves from the beloved and, quivering, endured: as the arrow endures the bow-string's tension, and in this tense release becomes more than itself. For staying is nowhere. Voices, voices. Listen my heart, as only saints have listened: until the gigantic call lifted them clear off the ground. Yet they went on, impossibly, kneeling, completely unawares: so intense was their listening. Not that you could endure the voice of God -far from it! But listen to the voice of the wind and the ceaseless message that forms itself out of silence. They sweep toward you now from those who died young. Whenever they entered a church in Rome or Naples, did not their fate quietly speak to you as recently as the tablet did in Santa Maria Formosa? What do they want of me? to quietly remove the appearance of suffered injustice that, at times, hinders a little their spirits from freely proceeding onward. Of course, it is strange to inhabit the earth no longer, to no longer use skills on had barely time to acquire; not to observe roses and other things that promised so much in terms of a human future, no longer to be what one was in infinitely anxious hands; to even discard one's own name as easily as a child abandons a broken toy. Strange, not to desire to continue wishing one's wishes. Strange to notice all that was related, fluttering so loosely in space. And being dead is hard work and full of retrieving before one can gradually feel a trace of eternity. -Yes, but the liviing make the mistake of drawing too sharp a distinction. Angels (they say) are often unable to distinguish between moving among the living or the dead. The eternal torrent whirls all ages along with it, through both realms forever, and their voices are lost in its thunderous roar. In the end the early departed have no longer need of us. One is gently weaned from things of this world as a child outgrows the need of its mother's breast. But we who have need of those great mysteries, we for whom grief is so often the source of spiritual growth, could we exist without them? Is the legend vain that tells of music's beginning in the midst of the mourning for Linos? the daring first sounds of song piercing the barren numbness, and how in that stunned space an almost godlike youth suddenly left forever, and the emptiness felt for the first time those harmonious vibrations which now enrapture and comfort and help us. Translated by Albert Ernest Flemming

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