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Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

by Thomas Gray

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

Okay, we have to hand it to those eighteenth-century poets like Alexander Pope and Thomas Gray. They sure were into form! Those guys were all about strict rhyme and meter, and they could really mak...

Speaker

The speaker of "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" is a thoughtful, pensive guy. He likes to be alone. At night. In graveyards. So that he can think about death. Good times. But you know the ty...

Setting

Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" takes place—you guessed it—in a country churchyard. And that means that it was written among all the gravestones of the dead members of that churc...

Sound Check

"Elegy in a Country Churchyard" has a kind of hushed, quiet sound to it, with a regular rhyme and rhythm—almost like the ticking of a quiet clock. The hush-hush quality to the poem seems appropri...

What's Up With the Title?

The title of this poem seems pretty straightforward: it announces the genre of the poem and the place where it was written. But let's think a little more about that—an elegy is a mournful, sad po...

Calling Card

Like many poets of the 1700s (Alexander Pope, we're looking at you), Thomas Gray was pretty obsessed with the form of the poem. You'll have a hard time finding a place where he breaks out of his ri...

Tough-o-Meter

This is a long poem, it's true, but the form is pretty straightforward—four-line stanzas, or quatrains and a regular rhyme scheme and meter to go with it. The subject matter is something that mos...

Trivia

Gray only published his most famous poem, "An Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" after some hack publishers got hold of a copy and tried to publish it without his permission. Good thing for us...

Steaminess Rating

Sorry to disappoint you, Shmoopers, but this is a poem about death and how we're remembered after we die, so there's not a lot of smooching going on. If you want a sexier poem from the eighteenth c...

Allusions

Milton" is a reference to John Milton, the seventeenth-century poet who penned Paradise Lost. (59)The Muses—goddesses in Greek and Roman mythology who were responsible for inspiring artists, musi...
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