Thomas Gray

(1716-1771 / London / England)

Previous Month December 2014 Next Month
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31 1 2 3 4
Poem of the Day
Select a day from the calendar.
Would you like to see the poem of the day in your e-mail box every morning?
Your email address:
  Subscribe FREE
  Unsubscribe

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard


The Curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;

Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as, wand'ring near her secret bow'r,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.

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.

The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.

Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke:
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour:
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Nor you, ye Proud, impute to These the fault,
If Memory o'er their Tomb no Trophies raise,
Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flatt'ry soothe the dull cold ear of death?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Some village Hampden that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.

Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,

Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone
Their glowing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.

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?

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Ev'n in our Ashes live their wonted Fires.

For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,

Haply some hoary-headed Swain may say,
'Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.

'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.

'Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove,
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.

'One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
Along the heath and near his fav'rite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;

'The next with dirges due in sad array
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne.
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay
Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn:'

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.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heav'n did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Mis'ry all he had, a tear,
He gain'd from Heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose,)
The bosom of his Father and his God.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: elegy, tree, history, destiny, birth, flower, lonely, memory, ocean, pride, fate, father, kiss, nature, sad, truth, children, friend, smile, moon

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray )

Enter the verification code :

  • * Sunprincess * (12/5/2013 3:47:00 PM)

    these are beautiful verses.....

    ~Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
    Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
    Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
    Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.

    Full many a gem of purest ray serene
    The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
    Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
    And waste its sweetness on the desert air.~ (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (12/5/2013 5:06:00 AM)

    With this single immortal poem Thomas Gray has established his name as best English poet and his special mark in world literature forever! Many best and talented personalities in various fields are there unknown to the world like the humble village people who have toiled, died and resting in peace in the grave yards of the place he has depicted wonderfully in this excellent poem! (Report) Reply

  • Kiran Devarajan (12/18/2012 12:12:00 AM)

    Full many a gem of purest ray serene
    The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
    Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
    And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

    Truth..I've never read anything so beautiful..The language is so sublime! ...and the philosophy is ethereal! ! (Report) Reply

  • Glenn Baker (3/9/2011 12:03:00 PM)

    This poem about death and eternity defies comment. Permanent truths abound in many of its couplets. (Report) Reply

  • Herman Chiu (12/6/2009 2:05:00 PM)

    Some of the finest use of English in poetry I have read.
    There is indeed opportunity and hope for greatness, evident from this Elegy.
    Finally, somebody puts People on comparable footing. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (12/5/2009 7:27:00 AM)

    A revolutionary poem in social terms - the idea that great men can be bred in the lowliest circumstances cuts across notions that there is some qualitative divide between the rich and poor, or the low and the high classes - and implies that a society where opportunity is given to the many will thrive better than one in which it is monopolised by a small section of it. (Report) Reply

  • Denvor Fernandez (7/21/2009 6:24:00 AM)

    Death is immortal - rich or poor, famous or infamous.We all are equal before death.
    Let us live our lives respecting each other - big or small. That's all Gray wants to say. (Report) Reply

  • Richard Knutson (1/5/2009 9:44:00 AM)

    i have always felt that this is one of the finest ever written, it is one of or perhaps my favorite (Report) Reply

  • Is It Poetry (12/5/2008 11:07:00 AM)

    Everything from colors to gray the language of this era would leave any but a scholar grasping at so many meanings they could change them for each day of the year...Personally I like the english...hello again.... (Report) Reply

Read all 9 comments »

Top Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  9. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou
  10. Invictus
    William Ernest Henley

PoemHunter.com Updates

New Poems

  1. A CELESTIAL PARTY, Romeo Della Valle
  2. restored, Mandolyn ...
  3. Miley Cyrus Perceived as a Martyr, A.j. Binash
  4. love became living again, Mandolyn ...
  5. Uncontained Sadness, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
  6. Structure, Fiona McCullough
  7. Battles Of The Inner Child, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
  8. Multiplying Loneliness, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
  9. This Is Such A Pity, Electric Lady
  10. What Happen To Love, Lilly Emery

Poem of the Day

poet Christina Georgina Rossetti

Where sunless rivers weep
Their waves into the deep,
She sleeps a charmed sleep:
Awake her not.
Led by a single star,
She came from very far
...... Read complete »

   

Member Poem

[Hata Bildir]