Historical Context in Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
Like many popular 18th-century poems, Elegy in a Country Churchyard contemplates the inevitability of death and the fear of being forgotten. In 18th-century England, the poor didn’t have many opportunities to become worthy of commemoration. The poor worked to survive; there was no time (or opportunity) to get an education or learn a profitable trade. Elegy questions whether the poor are less significant than the rich; if no one escapes death, then death is an equalizer. The poor seem unremarkable because they didn’t have the chance to demonstrate brilliance; thus, they deserve to be remembered too.