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Three Poems by Thomas Gray

Considered something of a “one-hit wonder”

On the Death of Richard West

  • In vain to me the smiling Mornings shine,
  • And reddening Phœbus lifts his golden fire;
  • The birds in vain their amorous descant join;
  • Or cheerful fields resume their green attire;
  • These ears, alas! for other notes repine,
  • A different object do these eyes require;
  • My lonely anguish melts no heart but mine;
  • And in my breast the imperfect joys expire.
  • Yet Morning smiles the busy race to cheer,
  • And new-born pleasure brings to happier men;
  • The fields to all their wonted tribute bear;
  • To warm their little loves the birds complain;
  • I fruitless mourn to him that cannot hear,
  • And weep the more because I weep in vain.

The Epitaph from “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”

  • Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
  • A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
  • Fair Science frown’d not on his humble birth,
  • And Melancholy mark’d him for her own.
  • Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
  • Heav’n did a recompense as largely send:
  • He gave to Mis’ry all he had, a tear,
  • He gain’d from Heav’n (’twas all he wish’d) a friend.
  • No farther seek his merits to disclose,
  • Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
  • (There they alike in trembling hope repose)
  • The bosom of his Father and his God.

Epitaph on a Child

  • Here, freed from pain, secure from misery, lies
  • A child, the darling of his parents’ eyes:
  • A gentler lamb ne’er sported on the plain,
  • A fairer flower will never bloom again.
  • Few were the days allotted to his breath;
  • Now let him sleep in peace his night of death.

Thomas Gray (1716–1771) was an English poet best known for his “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (1751). A classical scholar and professor at Cambridge University, Gray wrote poems in English, Latin, and classical Greek. Considered something of a “one-hit wonder” with his “Elegy,” and a member of the “Graveyard Poets” with Oliver Goldsmith, William Cowper, and Christopher Smart, Gray introduced — through this one poem — a number of expressions that have become staples of the English lexicon, including “paths of glory,” “celestial fire,” “far from the madding crowd,” and “kindred spirit.”

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On the Death of Richard West

  • In vain to me the smiling Mornings shine,
  • And reddening Phœbus lifts his golden fire;
  • The birds in vain their amorous descant join;
  • Or cheerful fields resume their green attire;
  • These ears, alas! for other notes repine,
  • A different object do these eyes require;
  • My lonely anguish melts no heart but mine;
  • And in my breast the imperfect joys expire.
  • Yet Morning smiles the busy race to cheer,
  • And new-born pleasure brings to happier men;
  • The fields to all their wonted tribute bear;
  • To warm their little loves the birds complain;
  • I fruitless mourn to him that cannot hear,
  • And weep the more because I weep in vain.

The Epitaph from “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”

  • Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
  • A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
  • Fair Science frown’d not on his humble birth,
  • And Melancholy mark’d him for her own.
  • Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
  • Heav’n did a recompense as largely send:
  • He gave to Mis’ry all he had, a tear,
  • He gain’d from Heav’n (’twas all he wish’d) a friend.
  • No farther seek his merits to disclose,
  • Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
  • (There they alike in trembling hope repose)
  • The bosom of his Father and his God.

Epitaph on a Child

  • Here, freed from pain, secure from misery, lies
  • A child, the darling of his parents’ eyes:
  • A gentler lamb ne’er sported on the plain,
  • A fairer flower will never bloom again.
  • Few were the days allotted to his breath;
  • Now let him sleep in peace his night of death.

Thomas Gray (1716–1771) was an English poet best known for his “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (1751). A classical scholar and professor at Cambridge University, Gray wrote poems in English, Latin, and classical Greek. Considered something of a “one-hit wonder” with his “Elegy,” and a member of the “Graveyard Poets” with Oliver Goldsmith, William Cowper, and Christopher Smart, Gray introduced — through this one poem — a number of expressions that have become staples of the English lexicon, including “paths of glory,” “celestial fire,” “far from the madding crowd,” and “kindred spirit.”

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