© 2015 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

CHECK OUT SHMOOP'S FREE STUDY TOOLS: Essay Lab | Math Shack | Videos

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

  

by Thomas Gray

Stanza 30 Summary

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

Lines 117-120

THE EPITAPH

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.

  • Now we're supposed to imagine that we, like the "kindred spirit" who asked about the dead speaker, are reading Thomas Gray's imagined epitaph. Morbid?
  • Yes. But kind of cool, we have to admit. Let's see what it says…
  • This is where the speaker is resting his head on the ground.
  • Yes, that's a metaphor! Dead people don't really "rest their heads" anywhere—they're dead, after all. And "Earth" is being personified when the speaker imagines that it could have a "lap."
  • The speaker calls himself a young person who is unknown both to Fortune (i.e., good luck or wealth—it could mean either) and to Fame. In other words, he was of humble birth.
  • But at least he was no stranger to knowledge, or science, in spite of his humble origins. He was a scholar and a poet!
  • But, alas, he was sometimes kinda depressed.
  • We get more personification here, too—you can tell because all those nouns (Fame, Fortune, Science, Melancholy) are capitalized.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement
Noodle's College Search
Noodle's College Search
Advertisement
Advertisement