Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard Summary and Explanation- Part 4

Explanation of Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

Now you’re slowly moving towards the end of the analysis of the poem! Since you’ve already got a sense of the poem, I am not going in great details, as I did in the previous stanzas! Nonetheless you’ll find the analysis exciting and though-provoking!

A quick link to the previous stanzas!

Stanza1 to Stanza 6

Stanza 7 to Stanza 11

Stanza 12 to Stanza 17

Stanza 18:

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.

These poor rustics were denied by destiny to shine in life by means of tricks. Ambitious people try to obtain great favor and praise by writing words of price or means of flattery. Thus they were escaped from ‘killing their conscience” for the sake of getting patronage.

Pangs- pains; conscious truth- truth that is aware of the inward guilt; ingenuous- honest; heap- mound; the shrine of Luxury and Pride: temple of luxurious and proud men; kindled: burnt; muse: refers to the goddess of Poetry

Stanza 19:

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.

The villagers led a very simple and secluded life; they kept themselves away from the bustle of city life where people compete for wealth, power and fame. They never cherished high aspirations or ambition. They lived in peace and solitude and didn’t hanker after fame and prosperity.

madding- outraged; ignorable strife- struggle for position and power; never learn’d to stray- go in vain

Stanza 20:

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.

No ornamental decorations could be raised over their trophies; these memorials didn’t have any rhymes of praise and lacked beautiful sculpture. Yet to protect their honor from an insult they were put forth on their graveyards so that passerby may show some respect towards their grave.

these bones- refers to the rustics who are buried in graveyard; frail- weak; memorial- monument, nigh- near; uncouth- coarse, deck’d- decorated

Stanza 21:

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.

The records of life that could be found on their tombs were written by some educated person of their village. Texts and sayings from Bible were scattered over their tombs which gave some spiritual consolidation to the rustics to enable them to meet death cheerfully.

implores- plead; muse- poem, elegy- song of lamentation, moralist- endowed with morality

Popularity of The Poem Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

Elegy is recongised for its beautiful and impressive tone, it consists some beautiful English lexicon. Some very common and touchy phrases in elegy are

Poor rustics
Celestial fire
The Paths of Glory
The unlettered muse
Kindred spirit
Far from the maddening crowd
Some mute inglorious Milton

Stanza 22:

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?

The poets explain the reason of memorials raised over the grave of the poor rustics. No one wishes to get an oblivion curse. Life is full of struggle, people love to life and no one wishes to die without casting a regretful look behind. Even the poor when they die wish to be remembered long after their death.

dumb Forgetfulness- complete forgetfulness, pleasing anxious: life of anxiety and pleasure; precincts- boundary

Stanza 23:

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.

Even the parting soul wants his dear ones to shed some tears. This happens to be a natural wish, the longing of man when he closes his eyes to confront death. Even when these rustics had turned into ashes they wished that their account of life and death is inscribed in their tombs.

the parting soul- the dying men, pious drops- tears of affection, closing eyes- the rustics, wonted- usual, fires-emotions.

Stanza 24:

The poet who was sympathetic towards these villagers gave an account of their life. They were not honored in their life, but the poet related their entire tale of life in these lines. What would happen if someone close to the poet would inquire about him after his death?

The Final Stanzas!

Here’s the link of the explanation of the final stanzas

Stanza 25 to Stanza 32

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