Gray is no doubt a classicist, but was sensitive to impending trends of Romanticism which soon came to eclipse classicism. Gray began to shift his attention from suffocated town to pristine country side with its green pasture, where cattle graze, rivers run, birds chirp, breezing winds blow that create peaceful atmosphere of rural area. The setting of country side opens our eyes to simple life of poor people. They live in poverty and this has crushing effect on their life. They are never able to get rid of the poverty. In fact humble, people of country side have innate gifts and latent ability but because they have no opportunity to develop their potentials, remains undeveloped.
2.1 Return to Nature
One of the most conspicuous features of Romanticism is nature. The sights and sounds described in the opening stanzas create a rural atmosphere and suggest the interest in many sides of nature.
“The curfew foils the knell of parting day
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me”
In the very opening lines, the poet builds up an atmosphere of evening in rural area. The sheep are returning to the village over the pasture land. They are walking in winding course as is their habit and they walk, they produce their natural sound. The farmer is also walking heavily homewards, tired of the days labours. The dark is descending upon the world and the poet finds himself all alone. The above lines are meticulous observation of Gray towards nature.
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