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Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

by Thomas Gray

Stanza 22 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 85-88

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?

  • After all, the speaker asks, who is going to give up ("resign") their life ("being"), which is both pleasing and anxious, or to leave the warm environment of the earth, without looking behind them at what they leave behind—especially someone who, like the villagers, is going to be forgotten when he or she is dead?
  • We get another metaphor here in line 85, and some more personification, too! Being forgotten when you're dead is like being hunted down as the "prey" of a predator called "Forgetfulness." Sounds scary!
  • Finally, we get more alliteration here, with the repeated beginning L sound in "longing, ling'ring look."

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