Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard

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Thomas Gray (1716—1771) poet and literary scholar

Richard West (1716—1742) poet


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A meditative poem in quatrains by T. Gray, published in 1751, but begun some years earlier. The churchyard is perhaps that of Stoke Poges, where Gray often visited members of his family. The poem, which contains some of the best‐known lines in English literature, reflects on the obscure destinies of the villagers who lie buried (‘Full many a flower is born to blush unseen’) and then describes the supposed death of the melancholy and unknown author. Critics have related the closing stanzas both to Gray's fears about his own poetic destiny, and to the early death of his friend Richard West in 1742.

Subjects: Literature.

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