Thomas Grey Notes

"Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard"

-In classic literature (Greek and Latin), the elegy was a poem of couplets.  Each couplet was made up of a longer line followed by a shorter line.

"Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" # 15 "narrow cell" = the grave

# 29  Ambition shouldn't despise such simple folk.

# 41  Can the splendid graves of the famous bring them back?  There is equality in death if not in life.  This is an ancient theme, voiced by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius among others.

"Alexander the Macedonian [Alexander the Great] and his groom are reduced to  the same state in death; for either they were received among the same creative Reason of the universe, or they were alike dispersed among the atoms." (Marcus Aurelius 6. 24)
#  They were like flowers in the desert - unseen but beautiful.

# 57-68  If their poverty kept them from great accomplishments (like Milton), it also kept them from great crimes (like Cromwell).  They had the same potential, just not the same opportunities.

# 77-84  Even in this humble graveyard, you can see the markers on the graves with their simple messages.

# 99ff He imagines himself dead & someone asking about him.

# 117  The epitaph he wants on his own grave.  Have you written yours yet?