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This poem has been written by the speaker to mourn the death of his lifelong friend. He sits on and sees the country churchyard at sunset. The poem mourns the death of the common men and not the dominant famous ones. This shows the phenomenon that death is a sure thing and that it gets not only the poor but also the rich and famous. According to this poem, the people of this region should be satisfied with their uncomplicated lives because, at the end of it all, they will end up in a grave. It shows how the powerful and famous toil hard to achieve their wealth, and in the end, they leave it all behind as soon as they die. The writer does not fail to wonder, what would have become of the ordinary hardworking farmers who have died, if they had toiled hard to seek their talents. He ends up praising them for their basic, honest lives.
The poem starts with the writer observing the day come to a close. This is shown in the poem as the curfew bell rings as the herd of cattle move across the pasture, and the farm laborer returns home. However, the writer uses the term knell instead of the ring this is to show that it is the end of life. The term knell refers to the bell rung at a death or funeral, thus, this signifies that the writer is talking about death. He speaks of the world being left with darkness this signifies loss to the community due to the death of one of their own. The second stanza shows the write describing the peaceful landscape that surrounds him; he even notices that the air is in solemn stillness. This is to signify the solemn mood in a funeral as each person there contemplates of the loss of such brilliant but common men.
The writer uses sounds to describe grief that comes along with death of an individual in a community. The community cries to the lord asking why their beloved has been taken from them. Thus, this shows that though the men were common farmers they were loved due to their hardworking nature, and that is why the grief is much. The next stanza shows the grave site on the church yard where men of this area are buried. He describes the graves as lowly bed cells where their ancestors sleep. The sleep denoted here is one where one never wakes. Underneath the trees are the heap of leaves that fall off the tree, this is to show how the graves here have heaps of the earth due to the disruption that occurs when a body is buried underneath. The shape of the grave is defined using the term cell showing how small it is. The common, ordinary farmer or the rich intellectual man will at the end of their lives lie under such a grave (Gray para 6).
The fore fathers are deemed to be sleeping in their lowly beds symbolizing how humble they were when they were alive, but the writer reminds us that, in this comfort, they shall not wake again to perform their daily chores. In their sleep, the dead will not enjoy the delights of their humble life such as the happiness of a home, children and wife.
In this poem, the writer shows how the farmers worked hard and honestly in their farms to meet their daily needs. This shows that although they lived an ordinary life they enjoyed every single day. This is shown in the sixth stanza where the writer shows that their toil never went to waste. Each year they would have bountiful harvest to sustain them and their families. It is, therefore, evident that the people of this area are encouraged to continue farming as it has its benefits. The poem emphasizes the importance of agriculture in the life of mankind. This is because it provides humans with daily food for survival.
In the next stanzas, the ambitious people are requested no to mock these common honest men buried in lowly graves. This is because these men worked hard in their lifetime to sustain their selves and the economy of the country. They were once productive farmers who were the bearer of the whole society and the economy at large no matter how insignificant they seemed. The rich, famous and those with important positions in the society are reminded that death is for everyone. The writer talks of the powers of the rich not having the ability to put the death at bay. He talks of flattery not soothing the cold ear of death, and the honour voice not provoking the silence of the grave thus death does is not scared by death. The rich may have their all their powers, but all these will one day be led to the graves. The rich have been asked not to obscure the destiny of the poor due to the fact of not having long histories about them written in their eulogy. This is because, the person buried underneath may have been a re known poet or musician just that he or she did not exploit their talent (Gray para 6).
The writer challenges the reader not to look down on the poor having modes, simple graves. The mighty elaborated memorials that are on the graves of the proud are somehow excessive. This can be explained through the word fretted that can mean that there is something troublesome about such graves of the proud. This is so because the committed person may be buried in a luxurious grave yet he does not enjoy the peace of the dead, since, in his life, he may have shut the gates of mercy to mankind or may have slaughtered his way to the throne. Thus, he may be having all these memorials engraved yet he got them through shameful means.
The writer further shows that death leaves no one when it time comes be it the humble, the rich, the proud, the shameful or those with virtues. This is shown for the writer shows the buried in different means. The rich in luxurious graves with shapeless sculpture encrypt with many words describing them as powerful and popular. They have many epitaphs and their burials are of pomp and color. This shows that even the rich and popular die at a point in their time. The poor, on the other hand, are described in the epitaph as humble and happy in spirit with sincere souls, and faced trials on earth in a sincere manner. They are given a simple, fare well by the churchyard. This shows that even the remarkably talented and sincere people will one day die.
It can thus be concluded that death is the greatest leveler in the world. This is because it catches up with everybody in the society, rich or poor. The poem also shows that living the ordinary farming life is better, since one dies with dignity unlike the rich who boast of their wealth yet it cannot hinder them from dying. The common folk described in the country churchyard are thus urged to be contended with their ordinary life because, they may lack the fame, but somehow they are the backbone of the whole society and the entire economy.