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.”