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Heart BeatsEveryday Life and the Memorized Poem$
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Catherine Robson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691119366

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691119366.001.0001

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Thomas Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”

Thomas Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”

(p.123) Thomas Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”
Heart Beats

Catherine Robson

Princeton University Press

This chapter addresses some of the later psychological dimensions inherent within adolescents' and adults' internalization of a poem. It sets Thomas Gray's “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” within a very specific institutional and emotional history, directing attention to the mingled pain and pleasure that can exist within the possession of a cultural object. This chapter considers how the highest-achieving elementary-school pupils might have felt when they read and recited a work that dubs the poor both unlettered and mute. Further, it speculates about the ability of the memorized poem to stay within those individuals for the remainder of their days, and to act as a constant reminder of the educational and social processes that moved them out of one class and into another—an elevation the eighteenth-century poem deems impossible.

Keywords:   Elegy, Thomas Gray, cultural object, social status, memorized poem, class, internalization

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