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By Thomas Gray

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.


Poet Bio

Thomas Gray was born in London and was the only of twelve siblings to survive. Although his family had a modest income, Gray was able to attend Eton and Cambridge with his uncle’s help. In 1742 he wrote his first important poems, including “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.” When he wrote, he perfected each line before moving on to the next; he took years to complete “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” now one of the most frequently quoted English poems.

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