Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smileThe short and simple annals of the poor. (Stanza 8)
This stanza is taken from Thomas Gray’s famous elegy Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. Here Gray implores the people of high positions and aristocratic ranks to be sympathetic and tolerant to the simple and humble living of poor villagers.
The poet has already related, with sincerity and sympathy, the useful toil and the humble joys of the rude forefathers of the hamlet. Ambitious men, with high objectives, are prone to despise such a poor and humble life. Again, persons, caring for pomp and splendour, money or grandeur only, have a natural instinct to look down upon the poor people whose living is in dire poverty and wretched humility only. The humanist in Gray forbids them to do so. He reminds them of their toil that is useful and productive and their joys, that is simple but genuine. They have not any grand future before them. The poor villagers, like the rude forefathers of the hamlet, live and die unknown. But that is no reason for the men of fortune and honor to taunt and ridicule their plain and uneventful but innocent and laborious existence.
The stanza bears a didactic note, characteristic of the classical age. Gray’s appeal to ambitious and fortunate people to view with toleration and sympathy a humble lot of the poor villages bears out the humanitarian zeal that well stamps his poetic creed.