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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On the Death of Richard West
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...