Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard Essay

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In this essay, Ellis investigates the central mystery in one of the best-known poems in the English language.

Gray's 'Elegy' is one of the better known poems in the English language. It is also one of those poems about which there is centred an enduring controversy. This can be referred to in shorthand as the 'stonecutter debate' and centres on a moment in the poem when, after an apparently serene enough progress into the pastoral mode, with an elegiac 'graveyard poets' edge to it, the poem suddenly introduces a startling complication. The 'Elegy' up until this moment seems to have a clear enough, and clearly centred, narrative voice, established emphatically in its very first stanza:

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.

The...

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This section contains 5,876 words
(approx. 15 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.