, the most famous collection of memorials for
the dead in Britain. In particular take the 360 degree tour of Poet's Corner.
This poem investigates the dangers of the glamorous
world and contrasts that with the humble simplicity
of the country villagers, but unlike the representation
of rural life in Collier, for instance, this
poem is written from the perspective of the educated
outsider poet. How does this differ?
The style is elegiacal with the traditional ABAB
four line stanza. What is the effect of this rhyme
scheme on the sound of the poem? How does this heighten
the effect of the language?
Whose elegy is this? What is the speaker's relationship
to those he writes about? Why is he writing this elegy?
The first three stanzas describe the rural
landscape at dusk, once again invoking this liminal
state -- this in-betweenness that is not day and is
not night. What is the significance of the country
church yard, as opposed to, say, Westminster Abbey?
What does the setting suggest about the
poet's place in this context?
The poet considers the "rude Forefathers of the Hamlet"
in lines 17 and on. What virtues do these rustics possess?
What are the implications of this description?
Analyze line 36: "The Paths of Glory lead but to the Grave"
-- how does the poem develop this theme?
Who does the speaker address in the next lines (37-40):
"Nor you, ye Proud, impute to These the fault/ If Mem'ry
o'er their Tomb no Trophies raise, / Where thro' the
long-drawn Isle and fretted Vault / The pealing Anthem
swells the Note of Praise."
Examine the beautiful lines 49-56 "Full many a flower
is born to blush unseen...." What do these lines suggest
about fame? About the laboring classes?
Examine the implications of the poet's thoughts on "Some
mute inglorious Milton here may rest, / some Cromwell
guiltless of his Country's Blood" (59-60).
The speaker makes his own unambiguous decision in favor
of a life of rural innocence in the first stage of the
poem. However, the inadequacy of the solution -- the
escape into the country -- surfaces in the conclusion.
What are some of the problems with rural country innocence?
How is the poet barred from the experience?
The poet changes his mind regarding the state of this class.
What makes him reconsider? What does this new value for
ignorance have to do with the country versus the city?
The last section centers on the role of poetry -- how
one remembers the dead. How does one remember the unlettered dead?
The speaker imagines a rustic muse, creating epitaphs
for the dearly departed. Everybody needs to be remembered:
"ev'n from the Tomb the Voice of Nature Cries,/ Ev'n in our
Ashes live their wonted Fires" What are the implications of this?
He then offers these lines -- the poem -- to those who
are "mindful of th'unhonoured dead" (93). What does
this suggest about the poet's attitude toward the
laboring people? Toward poetry?
The closing lines here return to the poet himself,
as he imagines what one of the country folk would
say of his death. The division between the country
people and the poet himself becomes evident. Examine
the final lines.
The poem celebrating the unhonored dead ends with a
fantasy of the poet's own death, where he envisions
his anonymity (and marginality) but creates his own
fame (both in the epitaph, and in the poem which
literally made Gray famous). How does this illustrate
the problems of fame and immortality that the poem tries to work out?
Ode to Evening (1747)
Describe the style of this poem. How does the line
compare with the dominant couplet form used by Pope?
How does it compare with the blank verse used by Milton?
What are the implications of the choice? Note the use
of punctuation and the fluid syntax. What are the
effects of this? What is the tone of the poem?
Describe the sound of the poem (read it out loud.)
Who is "chaste Eve" in line 2? What is the effect of
this personification? what is the effect of the allusion to Milton?
What mood is created through the imagery of lines 5-14?
What is the poet's role in this context? What is his
relationship to Eve?
Examine the closing lines. What does the poet commit
himself to? What does this suggest about the role of
nature in poetry? How does this differ from "nature"
as represented by Pope in Essay on Criticism?
What is the role of society in this poem?
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