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Literary Terms and Definitions O

"This quatrain seems to have been inspired by four lines in a Monody on the Death of Queen Caroline by G.'s friend Richard West (reprinted in Dodsley's Collection (1748) ii 269 ff.): 'Ah me! what boots us all our boasted power, / Our golden treasure, and our purpled state, / They cannot ward th'inevitable hour, / Nor stay the fearful violence of fate.' But the sentiment occurs frequently in Horace, e.g. Odes I iv 13-4: pallida Mors aequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas / regumque turres (Pale Death with foot impartial knocks at the poor man's cottage and at princes' palaces); I xxviii 15-6: sed omnes una manet nox, / et calcanda semel via leti (But a common night awaiteth every man, and Death's path must be trodden once for all); and II xvii 32-4: aequa tellus / pauperi recluditur / regumque pueris (For all alike doth Earth unlock her bosom - for the poor man and for princes' sons). Cp. also Cowley, translation of Horace, Odes III i 15-16, 21: 'Beauty, and strength, and wit, and wealth, and pow'r, / Have their short flourishing hour / ... / Alas! Death mows down all with an impartial hand'; Mallet, Excursion i 290-2 'Proud greatness, too, the tyranny of power, / The grace of beauty, and the force of youth, / And name and place, are here-for ever lost!'; and Dart, Westminster Abbey I xviii (see ll. 17-20 n above): 'To prove that nor the Beauteous, nor the Great, / Nor Form, nor Pow'r, are Wards secure from Fate.' G.'s lines have also been compared to Edward Phillips's Preface to Theatrum Poetarum (1675), in J. E. Spingarn, Critical Essays of the 17th Century (1908-9) ii 258 (and cp. l. 59n below): 'no wonder if the memories of such Persons as these sink with their Bodys into the earth, and lie buried in profound obscurity and oblivion, when even among those that tread the paths of Glory and Honour, those who have signaliz'd themselves either by great actions in the field or by Noble Arts of Peace or by the Monuments of their written Works more lasting sometimes than Brass or Marble, very many ... have fallen short of their deserved immortality of Name, and lie under a total eclipse.'"

Shelley, in his poem 'Ode to the West Wind,'; uses poignant tone, while using personification and imagery to unravel his theme of nature.

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"And here may be the best place to note after Dr Phelps that the 'whole atmosphere of Collins's Ode is similar to that of the Elegy. Cf. especially stanza 10,

''And hamlets brown, and dim-discovered spires,
And hears their simple bell, and marks o'er all
Thy dewy fingers draw
The gradual dusky veil.'' '
Dr Phelps notes also that Joseph Warton's verses contain some of Gray's pictures, and something of the same train of thought: e.g.:
''Hail, meek-eyed maiden, clad in sober grey,
Whose soft approach the weary woodman loves,
As homeward bent to kiss his prattling babes
Jocund he whistles through the twilight groves.''
add:
''Now every Passion sleeps; desponding Love,
And pining Envy, ever-restless Pride;
A holy calm creeps o'er my peaceful soul,
Anger and mad Ambition's storms subside.''
The latter stanza might well be the form in embryo of the four rejected stanzas quoted infra, n. on . Dr Phelps remarks that ''the scenery as well as the meditations of the Elegy were by no means original: they simply established more firmly literary fashions which were already becoming familiar.''
And certainly if the opening stanzas of the Elegy as we now have them were written as early as 1742, their composition was in no way affected by the poems of Warton and Collins; the same must be said even if the 'autumnal verses' of the letter of Sept. 11, 1746, were the Elegy. The spirit of gentle melancholy was in the air; and in 1746 and 1747 found in three young poets, Collins, Joseph Warton and Thomas Warton, that voice to the world at large which is found again in Gray in 1750. For in 1747 Thomas Warton published anonymously these lines, which he had written in his 17th year (1745):
''Beneath yon ruin'd abbey's moss-grown pile
Oft let me sit, at twilight hour of eve
Where thro' some western window the pale moon
Pours her long-levell'd rule of streaming light;
While sullen sacred silence reigns around,
Save the lone screech-owl's note, who builds his bow'r
Amid the mould'ring caverns dark and damp,
Or the calm breeze, that rustles in the leaves
Of flaunting ivy, that with mantle green
Invests some wasted tow'r:
''
where resemblance to the Elegy is closest of all.
Between these three poets communication of ideas was probable; but at this date even Thomas Warton, with whom he afterwards corresponded, was an absolute stranger to Gray. And Gray is so far from feeling that in any of these there were 'kindred spirits' who might 'enquire his fate' that he writes, Dec. 27, 1746:
'Have you seen the Works of two young Authors, a Mr Warton and a Mr Collins, both Writers of Odes? it is odd enough, but each is the half of a considerable Man, and one the counterpart of the other. The first has but little invention, very poetical choice of Expression, and a good Ear, the second a fine fancy, model'd upon the Antique, a bad Ear, great variety of Words, and Images with no choice at all. They both deserve to last some Years, but will not.'
So little are men conscious of that 'stream of tendency' on which they themselves are borne."

However it is particularly apparent in ‘Ode to the West Wind’ where the wind is the source of his creativity.

"This quatrain seems to have been inspired by four lines in a Monody on the Death of Queen Caroline by G.'s friend Richard West (reprinted in Dodsley's Collection (1748) ii 269 ff.): 'Ah me! what boots us all our boasted power, / Our golden treasure, and our purpled state, / They cannot ward th'inevitable hour, / Nor stay the fearful violence of fate.' But the sentiment occurs frequently in Horace, e.g. Odes I iv 13-4: pallida Mors aequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas / regumque turres (Pale Death with foot impartial knocks at the poor man's cottage and at princes' palaces); I xxviii 15-6: sed omnes una manet nox, / et calcanda semel via leti (But a common night awaiteth every man, and Death's path must be trodden once for all); and II xvii 32-4: aequa tellus / pauperi recluditur / regumque pueris (For all alike doth Earth unlock her bosom - for the poor man and for princes' sons). Cp. also Cowley, translation of Horace, Odes III i 15-16, 21: 'Beauty, and strength, and wit, and wealth, and pow'r, / Have their short flourishing hour / ... / Alas! Death mows down all with an impartial hand'; Mallet, Excursion i 290-2 'Proud greatness, too, the tyranny of power, / The grace of beauty, and the force of youth, / And name and place, are here-for ever lost!'; and Dart, Westminster Abbey I xviii (see ll. 17-20 n above): 'To prove that nor the Beauteous, nor the Great, / Nor Form, nor Pow'r, are Wards secure from Fate.' G.'s lines have also been compared to Edward Phillips's Preface to Theatrum Poetarum (1675), in J. E. Spingarn, Critical Essays of the 17th Century (1908-9) ii 258 (and cp. l. 59n below): 'no wonder if the memories of such Persons as these sink with their Bodys into the earth, and lie buried in profound obscurity and oblivion, when even among those that tread the paths of Glory and Honour, those who have signaliz'd themselves either by great actions in the field or by Noble Arts of Peace or by the Monuments of their written Works more lasting sometimes than Brass or Marble, very many ... have fallen short of their deserved immortality of Name, and lie under a total eclipse.'"

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