“The short and simple annals of the poor”, – Explain it

In the Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, Gray points out that the life of the rustics was made of useful toil and homely joys. The rich people have no reason to scorn them. Though opportunities for distinction were not given to them, they were not entirely miserable. If fame was denied to them, it was not entirely uncompensated. They were able to avoid most of the crimes which are attendant on greatness.

Inspired by the spirit of active sympathy for these simple rustics, Gray observes that there may be among them men with the genius of great poets or rulers. Opportunities were denied to them and so they did not acquire the fame which they deserved. They were prevented from becoming great men like Hampden, Milton, or Cromwell. But if their humble destiny prevented them from achieving fame, it also saved them from the crimes incidental to greatness. They never wandered through blood and they were not monsters of cruelty. Their very frankness prevented them from suppressing the truth and offering insincere flattery.

There is almost an idyllic picture of the poor people and their lives in this poem. The poet points out how they live content in their villages, leading a simple honest, and beautiful life. It would seem as if the poet held up this ideal before his generation as something worth emulation.

Also read: Explain the line ” The curfew tolls the knell of parting day/The lowing herd winds slowly o’er the lea”