Ode to friendship & other essays Homework Academic Writing Service
" ''Much as I admire Gray, one feels I think, in reading his poetry never quite secure against the false poetical style of the eighteenth century. It is always near at hand, sometimes it breaks in; and the sense of this prevents the security one enjoys with truly classic work...
'Thy joys no glittering female meets---'or even things in the Elegy:
[Ode on Spring .]
'He gave to misery all he had - a tear;are instances of the sort of drawback I mean.'' Matthew Arnold.
He gain'd from Heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a friend---'
What Arnold notes is the affected antithesis and consequent exaggeration in 'all he had' and ''twas all he wished.' Add the straining after point. If his bounty was large, how comes it, the average reader asks, that he has only a tear to give to misery? If Heaven gave a large recompense, how came it that it gave him only one friend? The answer is that 'a tear' is 'large bounty,' and that 'a friend' is 'a large recompense.' And the retort is that, if this is the point, it is badly made and is not worth making.
We ought not, perhaps, to seek too close a correspondence between the poet's circumstances and the epitaph. It is a coincidence which we must not press, that he was temporarily inconvenienced during the time when he was fitfully engaged upon the second half of the Eleqy by the loss of a house (insured) in Cornhill; at no time in his life was he really embarrassed. During the same period also he had more than one true friend besides Wharton. One cannot however help suspecting either that this epitaph was the one part of the Elegy written in 1742, although undoubtedly not entered in the oldest extant MS. until the completion of the Poem, or that it is retrospective, and recalls the regrets of that melancholy year, when West was dead and Gray, then really solitary, may have longed to be with him (see Odes and Introductory notes). Both here and in the the 'personal note' with which a very general theme is made to end is distinctly not effective. Whether consciously or not, Gray in this imitates West, whose 'Muse as yet unheeded and unknown' winds up 'the monody on the Death of Queen Caroline' with a self-reference, the feebleness of which Gray would have recognised in the case of any other friend [footnote: See Gray and His Friends, pp. 14, 114.]."
Ralph Waldo Emerson - Essays - Transcendentalists
The following representative parallels to the four rejected stanzas in the Eton MS (see l. 72 n) are intended to stress the mood of Christian Stoicism which underlies the first conclusion to the Elegy and which G[ray]. almost entirely removed in his revision of the poem. Most of the parallels are drawn from James Hervey's popular Meditations among the Tombs (1746) and his other Meditations and Contemplations (references here are to the 4th collected edn of 1748 in 2 vols), a work which acknowledged the influence of Young's slightly earlier Night Thoughts (1742-5). Certain features of the Elegy, in particular the churchyard setting, the silent darkness, the graves, the bell and the owl, although found in other writers, are exploited with sensational effect by Hervey, but the following parallels are confined to the four rejected stanzas:
1-2. Hervey i 72: 'Let Others, if they please, pay their obsequious Court to your wealthy Sons; and ignobly fawn, or anxiously sue, for Preferments; my Thoughts shall often resort, in pensive Contemplation, to the Sepulchres of their Sires; and learn, from their sleeping Dust, - to moderate my Expectations from Mortals: - to stand disengaged from every undue Attachment, to the little Interests of Time: - to get above the delusive Amusements of Honour; the gaudy Tinsels of Wealth; and all the empty Shadows of a perishing World.'
This passage is followed immediately, i 73, by a description of the bell: 'Hark! What Sound is That! - In such a Situation, every Noise alarms. - Solemn and slow, it breaks again upon the silent Air. - 'Tis the Striking of the Clock: Designed, one would imagine, to ratify all my serious Meditations ...'
3-4. Young, Night Thoughts v 253-4: 'Grief! more proficients in thy school are made / Than genius or proud learning e'er could boast'; Hervey ii 12: 'Our Innocence, is of so tender a Constitution, that it suffers in the promiscuous Croud; our Purity of so delicate a Complexion, that it scarce touches on the World, without contracting a Stain. We see, we hear, with Peril. But here Safety dwells. Every meddling and intrusive Avocation is secluded. Silence holds the Door against the Strife of Tongues, and all the Impertinencies of idle Conversation. The busy Swarm of vain Images, and cajoling Temptations; that beset Us, with a buzzing Importunity, amidst the Gaieties of Life; are chased by these thickening Shades.'
5-8. See Elegy 93-6 n (p. 135) for a parallel to this stanza from Thomas Warton's Pleasures of Melancholy (1747).
9-12. Young, Night Thoughts v 195-200: 'auspicious midnight! hail! / The world excluded, every passion hushed, / And opened a calm intercourse with heaven, / Here the soul sits in council; ponders past, / Predestines future action; sees, not feels, / Tumultuous life, and reasons with the storm'; and ibid ix at end: 'Thus, darkness aiding intellectual light, / And sacred silence whisp'ring truths divine, / And truths divine converting peace to pain'; Joseph Warton, Ode to Evening 21-4: 'Now ev'ry Passion sleeps; desponding Love, / And pining Envy, ever-restless Pride; / An holy Calm creeps o'er my peaceful Soul, / Anger and mad Ambition's storms subside'; Hervey i 3: 'The deep Silence, added to the gloomy Aspect, and both heightened by the Loneliness of the Place, greatly increased the Solemnity of the Scene. - A sort of religious Dread stole insensibly on my Mind, as I advanced, all pensive and thoughtful, along the inmost Isle. Such as hushed every ruder Passion, and dissipated all the gay Images of an alluring World'; ibid i 11: 'Drowned is this gentle Whisper, amidst the Noise of mortal affairs; but speaks distinctly, in the Retirements of serious Contemplation'; ibid i 13-14: 'Oh! that we might learn from these friendly Ashes, not to perpetuate the Memory of Injuries; not to foment the Fever of Resentment; nor cherish the Turbulence of Passion; that there may be as little Animosity and Disagreement in the Land of the Living, as there is in the Congregation of the Dead!'; ibid ii xvi: 'The Evening, drawing her Sables over the World, and gently darkening into Night, is a Season peculiarly proper for sedate Consideration. All Circumstances concur, to hush our Passions, and sooth our Cares; to tempt our Steps abroad, and prompt our Thoughts to serious Reflection.'
13-14. Dryden, Lucretius, Latter Part of Book III, Against the Fear of Death 267-70: 'Eternal troubles haunt thy anxious mind, / Whose cause and cure thou never hop'st to find; / But still uncertain, with thyself at strife, / Thou wander'st in the Labyrinth of Life.'"
"Lucretius iii 894-6: iam iam non domus accipiet te laeta, neque uxor / optima nec dulces occurrent oscula nati / praeripere et tacita pectus dulcedine tangent (No longer now will your happy home give you welcome, no longer will your best of wives and sweet children race to win the first kisses, and thrill your heart to its depths with sweetness). Cp. Dryden's translation, Latter Part of the 3rd Book of Lucretius 76-9: 'But to be snatch'd from all thy household joys, / From thy Chast Wife, and thy dear prattling boys, / Whose little arms about thy Legs are cast, / And climbing for a Kiss prevent their Mothers hast'; and Thomson's imitation, Winter 311-6: 'In vain for him the officious wife prepares / The fire fair-blazing and the vestment warm; / In vain his little children, peeping out / Into the mingling storm, demand their sire / With tears of artless innocence. Alas! / Nor wife nor children more shall he behold.' Cp. also Horace, Epodes ii 39-40, 43-4: quod si pudica mulier in partem iuvet / domum atque dulces liberos ... / sacrum vestutis extruat lignis focum / lassi sub adventum viri (But if a modest wife shall do her part in tending home and children dear ... piling the sacred hearth with seasoned firewood against the coming of her weary husband). Cp. also Dryden, Georgics ii 760-1 (translating Virgil, ii 523): 'His little Children climbing for a Kiss, / Welcome their Father's late return at Night'; Thomson adopted the first line of this couplet, Liberty iii 173; and see also J. Warton, Ode to Evening 3 (quoted in l. 3n above)."