On a Distant Prospect of Eton College,and a sonnet on the death of his close friend Richard West. After years of revision he finished his great
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard(1751), a meditative poem presenting thoughts conjured up by the sight of a rural graveyard; it is perhaps the most quoted poem in English. In 1757, Walpole published Gray's Pindaric odes,
The Progress of Poesyand
The Bard.Gray's verse illustrates the evolution of English poetry in the 18th cent.—from the classicism of the 1742 poems to the romantic tendencies of
The Fatal Sistersand
The Descent of Odin(1768). He did not write a large amount of poetry. Much of his verse is tinged with melancholy, and even more of it reflects his extensive learning. His letters, which contain much humor, are among the finest in the English language.
See his collected works, ed. by E. Gosse (4 vol., rev. ed. 1902–6; repr. 1968); his correspondence, ed. by P. Toynbee and L. Whibley (1935, repr. 1971); selected letters, ed. by J. W. Krutch (1952); biographies by R. W. Ketton-Cremer (1955), M. Golden (1964), W. P. Jones (1937, repr. 1965); study by A. L. Sells (1980); A. T. McKenzie, Thomas Gray: A Reference Guide (1982).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: English Literature, 1500 to 1799: Biographies