This article suggests that Vasilii Zhukovskii's ‘Sel´skoe kladbishche’, his 1802 translation of Thomas Gray's ‘Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard’, offers a way of understanding the transition from eighteenth- to nineteenth-century literary culture as a shift from isolated or individual consciousness towards an open or communicative subjectivity. We can place ‘Sel´skoe kladbishche’ at the inception of a lyric phenomenology, where lyric becomes an extension of consciousness and cognition. The discussion privileges hope as the forward- and outward-looking sentimental structure that underlies this communicative subjectivity. Close reading of the poem dwells on sound as a medium negotiating between world and poetry, between impression and expression. Zhukovskii's poetic practice is contextualized amid German idealist philosophy: his engagement with this body of work before and after ‘Sel´skoe kladbishche’ is shown to inform and elaborate on the lyric subjectivity that defines his elegiac imagination.