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Thomas Gray: Transitional Poet Mrs. Cumberland. Objectives  To become acquainted with the work of Thomas Gray  To examine the elegy  To study an example.

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Presentation on theme: "Thomas Gray: Transitional Poet Mrs. Cumberland. Objectives  To become acquainted with the work of Thomas Gray  To examine the elegy  To study an example."— Presentation transcript:

1 Thomas Gray: Transitional Poet Mrs. Cumberland

2 Objectives  To become acquainted with the work of Thomas Gray  To examine the elegy  To study an example of the literary transition from Neoclassical to Romantic literature  To become acquainted with the work of Thomas Gray  To examine the elegy  To study an example of the literary transition from Neoclassical to Romantic literature

3 Thomas Gray  Born in London on December 26,1716  His father was a violent-tempered man who worked as a scrivener ( public copyist or writer, such as a notary)  His mother supplemented income by keeping a shop  Allowed Gray to go to Eton and Cambridge  He studied classical literature  Born in London on December 26,1716  His father was a violent-tempered man who worked as a scrivener ( public copyist or writer, such as a notary)  His mother supplemented income by keeping a shop  Allowed Gray to go to Eton and Cambridge  He studied classical literature

4  Gray traveled for three yrs. after graduating.  Never married  Professor of modern history and languages at Cambridge.  Spent time as a poet and scholar  Explored British museum ( opened 1759)  Died in Cambridge in 1771 after a long illness  Gray traveled for three yrs. after graduating.  Never married  Professor of modern history and languages at Cambridge.  Spent time as a poet and scholar  Explored British museum ( opened 1759)  Died in Cambridge in 1771 after a long illness

5 Gray as a Poet  Represents a transition from the Neoclassical couplet of Pope to the more expansive verse forms of the Romantic poets

6 Gray as a Poet ( continued)  Four-line stanza form with abab rhyme scheme and iambic pentameter became known as the “elegiac stanza”in honor of his “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”

7 Gray as a Poet ( continued)  Alternating rhyme of this verse differs from the classical couplet form, but preserves the emphasis on following a pattern  Diction has much of the precision and polish of the Neoclassical school.  Alternating rhyme of this verse differs from the classical couplet form, but preserves the emphasis on following a pattern  Diction has much of the precision and polish of the Neoclassical school.

8  Shows Romantic tendencies in the spirit and themes of his poetry more than in his form.

9  His depiction of nature and the common life anticipates later Romantic poets like Wordsworth

10  Gray’s focus on the life of the common people and the effect of nature upon one’s mood are characteristic of the Romantic poet.

11 Elegy…in a …Churchyard  Most famous of his poems  Spent six years composing the poem  Reveals personality in emotional expressions on nature and death.  Most famous of his poems  Spent six years composing the poem  Reveals personality in emotional expressions on nature and death.

12 Elegy..in a…Churchyard  Reflects Pope’s epigram, “What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed”

13 Definitions  Elegy:  A poem lamenting the death of a friend or a famous person  Compare Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” or Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom”  Elegy:  A poem lamenting the death of a friend or a famous person  Compare Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” or Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom”  Eulogy:  A speech or writing extolling the virtues and services of a person- especially referring t a funeral oration  Note: Gray’s “Elegy” does not refer to a particular death, but rather reflection of the lives of people buried in the churchyard and, by extension, of humankind in general.

14 Poetic diction/classical and topical allusions in “Elegy” Line 2: leapasture Line 11: Bowerdwelling Line 18: horn horn of the hunter Line 33: The boast of Heraldry Heraldry is the study of family cots of arms; thus the phrase refers to the pride of having a great family.

15 “Elegy” Lines 33-36:The subject is “hour”; the verb is “wait”; lines 33 and 34 are the direct object of wait Line 39: fretted vaultThe ornamental arched ceiling of a church roof Line 41: Storied urnAn urn inscribed with the story of the deceased Line 41: animatedLife-like

16 “Elegy” Line 43: ProvokeArouse or call forth Line 52: genialWarm or living Line 57: Hampden John Hampden ( ), a British landowner who resisted the tax assessment to maintain the fleet of Charles I, thus becoming the hero of England’s Civil War, in Lines 61-64Direct objects of the word forbade in line 65

17 “Elegy” Line 73: maddingWild, furious Line 76: tenorEven course Line 79: uncouthstrange Line 81: unlettered Muse The spirit of folk art

18 “Elegy” Line 84: moralistMoral man Line 92: wontedcustomary Line 93: For theeProbably Gray himself; perhaps the stonecutter poet of this graveyard Line 97: Haplyperhaps

19 “Elegy” Line 97: swainRustic, country youth Line 116: thornHawthorne tree Line 119: scienceknowledge Line 121: bountybounteousness

20  READ “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”  Answer discussion questions  READ “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”  Answer discussion questions

21 Reflect  The poem is Neoclassical in style  Regular iambic pentameter lines  “The curfew tolls the knell of parting day…”  Poetic in diction  “storied urn”  “the dull cold ear of Death”  The poem is Romantic in tone  Scenes of nature  Exaltation of humble country folk and gentle melancholy tone  The poem is Neoclassical in style  Regular iambic pentameter lines  “The curfew tolls the knell of parting day…”  Poetic in diction  “storied urn”  “the dull cold ear of Death”  The poem is Romantic in tone  Scenes of nature  Exaltation of humble country folk and gentle melancholy tone

22 Additional Activities  Read “Elegy” and Edward Young’s “Night Thoughts” or Robert Blair’s “The Grave” and compare their views on death with Gray’s

23  One of Gray’s contemporaries is William Collins. Read Collins’s “ode to Evening” and compare its Neoclassical and Romantic elements with those of Gray’s “Elegy”

24  Two modern elegies are “Elegy for Jane” by Theodore Roethke ( ) and “Elegy for William Hubbard” by Tony Connor ( ) Compare the subject matter of these two elegies with Gray’s poem


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