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)
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me. (3-4)
The relationship of man and the natural world is brought up in the first stanza. The speaker watches a farmer go wearily home from the fields. That right there is one way to have a relationship with the natural world—work on a farm! You'll be in close touch with the earth, all right. But the speaker has a different type of relationship with the earth. He's pleased to be left alone, in the dark, with the natural world around him.
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight, (6-7)
All the repeated S and Z sounds in these lines mimic the "buzzzzzzzzz" sound of the beetle "droning" along. The speaker sure has a good ear for nature.
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. (13-16)
It seems important to the speaker that the dead villagers are resting in a very natural setting—they're under elms and yew trees, under piles of turf. They're not in some musty churchyard or buried under stone monuments; they're one with nature. This seems to be the ideal way to spend eternity, at least from the speaker's point of view.