Explain the line The curfew tolls the knell of parting day/ The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea

“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 leave the world to darkness and to me”.

This is the opening stanza of Thomas Gray’s celebrated Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. The stanza contains the description of the evening scene around the country churchyard (at Stoke Poges), where the rude forefathers of the hamlet lie buried.

It is evening. The ringing of the curfew bell, warning people against keeping their fire-place uncovered, is heard. The plowman, exhausted with his hard work of the day, walk down the meadow, as his lowing cattle, equally tired, slowly follow. Darkness draws upon the whole churchyard, where the poet sits all by himself. Softly and surely it covers the whole place and the poet is all lost in the dense, dark night. The entire environment is pervaded with silence and solemnity.

This evening scene is a marvel of Gray’s poetic art. The whole scene is made living as if existing really before the reader’s very eyes. The scene also brings out the poet’s romantic interest in Nature, although he does not spiritualize or philosophize her.