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Thomas Gray and William Cullen Bryant both chose to write about nature and death being intertwined Since Thomas Gray lived in a time of social injustice he chose to use death to illustrate the problems inherent in a socially stratified society William Cullen Bryant on the other hand lived in a rapidly expanding young nation that cherished the vast amounts of untouched nature and he used death to illustrate how man fits into the universal truth of the earth However both men believed that death rendered all men equal in that all went to their final resting place in Mother Natures bosom While Grays Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard comes across as a social commentary on the English peasants and Bryants Thanatopsis serves as a catalog of American Romantic beliefs both believe that one must listen to nature that death makes all men equal and that man returns to nature after death To compare how the poems minor themes are similar one must first understand their major themes differences Elegy differs so greatly from Thanatopsis because they came from vastly different times and countries Gray wrote Elegy in eighteenth century England after the death of one of his friends Influenced by the English Romantics like Gray Bryant who spent much of his time out in the wild wrote Thanatopsis in praise of natures splendor Elegy appears at first to be solely about death but emerges as a social commentary on the plight of the poor Gray first explains how the commoners delight in the simple life of working in the fields and enjoying their families while Chill Penury held them back from greatness The peasants lot forbade them from achieving such atrocities of the rich and powerful such as shutting the gates of mercy on mankind because Their sober wishes never learned to stray Gray believes that even though the poor could not blossom they tend to enjoy
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