Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
by Thomas Gray
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard Man and the Natural World Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke! (27-28)
The speaker imagines how the villagers worked in the natural setting of their farms and village. They were cheerful and strong! And the wood that they chopped for fuel or for building supplies seemed to acknowledge the superior strength of the villagers: it "bow'd" before them.
"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. (101-104)
Toward the end of the poem, we get to hear more about the speaker's relationship with nature. He wants to be remembered as the kind of guy who used to stretch out lazily under a tree and listen to the babbling brook nearby. Why might he want to be remembered this way? The villagers' relationship with the natural world always seems to have to do with work—they plow the fields and work with their livestock and chop wood for fuel. The speaker, meanwhile, gets to nap under a tree. What's up with that? Does the poem seem to privilege one kind of relationship with nature over the other?