The primary theme of "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" is a reflection about the significance of the lives of a group of modest people buried in a rural church cemetery. Elegies focus on the death of an individual or group of people, and they generally have a melancholy tone.
The purpose of an elegy is to show emotions and ideas about the subject, and Thomas Gray's poem is no different. The theme of the poem comes from a somber consideration of the lives of the people interred in this cemetery and lament the passing of these people from life. Some researchers believe that the cemetery in the poem is at the church of St. Giles, in a small hamlet called Stoke Poges in the south of England; Gray himself is buried in this cemetery.