Gray, Thomas

Gray, Thomas, English poet, born in Cornhill, London, for whom Horace Walpole conceived a warm attachment, which, after a brief rupture, lasted with life; gave himself up to the study of Greek literature, and began to cultivate the muse of poetry; produced in 1747 “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College,” and in 1750 his well-known “Elegy written in a Country Churchyard”; these were followed by the “Pindaric Odes,” the “Progress of Poesy,” and the “Bard,” which was finished in 1757; in 1760 he was presented by the Duke of Grafton with the professorship of Modern History in Cambridge, a sinecure office with £400 a year. “All is clear light,” says Stopford Brooke, “in Gray's work. Out of the love of Greek he drew his fine lucidity.... He moved with easy power over many forms of poetry, but there is naturalness and no rudeness in the power. It was adorned by high ornament and finish.... The 'Elegy' will always remain one of the beloved poems of Englishmen; it is not only a piece of exquisite work; it is steeped in England” (1716-1771).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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