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The meaning and origin of the expression: Far from the madding crowd

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Far from the madding crowd

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Far from the madding crowd'?

A quiet and rural place.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Far from the madding crowd'?

stoke poges churchyardThis phrase is best known as the title of one of Thomas Hardy's most successful novels. Hardy took the title from Thomas Gray's poem - Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, 1751:

'Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.'

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'Madding' - a word hardly ever used outside this expression.
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It is possible that Gray was also alluding to earlier works: by William Drummond, circa 1614:

"Farre from the madding Worldlings hoarse discords."

or by Edmund Spenser, 1579:

"But now from me hys madding mynd is starte, And woes the Widdowes daughter of the glenne."

Whether Gray was referring to a specific churchyard isn't clear. It is well recorded though that Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard was written, at least in part, in a churchyard at Stoke Poges in Buckinghamshire.

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