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At any rate, 1742 is the traditional date; we know that it was finished at Stoke Poges, in June, 1750 (see p. It is not probable that Gray was steadily working at it all these years, even if he did begin it in 1742.
For interesting conjectures as to causes that inspired the poem, see Gosse, , pp. Gray was in no more haste to publish the poem than he had apparently been to complete it.
Metrical notation: - |- |- |- |- / - |- |- |- |- / - |- |- |- |- / - |- |- |- |- /Metrical foot type: iambic (- )Metrical foot number: pentameter (5 feet)Rhyme scheme: abab Rhyme (stanza position): cross (abab)Syllable pattern: .10Stanza: quatrain (4 lines)Genre(s): heroic quatrain, elegiac stanza, graveyard school, elegy Theme(s): hopelessness, vanity of life, night, social order, rural life, death ] [Era gia l' ora, che volge 'l disio A' naviganti, e 'ntenerisce 'l cuore Lo di ch' han detto a' dolci amici addio: E che lo nuovo peregrin d' amore Punge, se ode] — squilla di lontano Che paia 'l giorno pianger, che si muore.
[For I see in my thoughts, my sweet fire, One cold tongue, and two beautiful closed eyes Will remain full of sparks after our death.] was begun at Stoke-Poges in the autumn of 1742, probably on the occasion of the funeral of Jonathan Rogers, on the 31st of October. (Price sixpence).'' There was a preface by Horace Walpole.
1751, by Dodsley, & went thro' four editions, in two months; and afterwards a fifth, 6th, 7th, & 8th, 9th, 10th, & 11th; printed also in 1753 with Mr. there is a 2d edition; & again by Dodsley in his 'Miscellany,' vol. Roberts, & published in 1762, & again in the same year by Rob. A.''It first appeared with Gray's name in the ''Six Poems'' of 1753.
4th, & in a Scotch Collection call'd the 'Union'; translated into Latin by Chr. Mason says that Gray ''originally gave it only the simple title of 'Stanzas written in a Country Church-yard,' '' but that he ''persuaded him first to call it an Elegy, because the subject authorized him so to do, and the alternate measure seemed particularly fit for that species of composition; also so capital a poem written in this measure, would as it were appropriate it in the future to writings of this sort.''The title of the eighth edition, 1753, is ''Elegy, originally written in a Country Churchyard.''Three copies of the ''Elegy'' in Gray's handwriting still exist.
[(It was already the hour which turns back the desire Of the sailors, and melts their hearts, The day that they have said good-bye to their sweet friends, And which pierces the new pilgrim with love, If he hears) — from afar the bell Which seems to mourn the dying day.] Ch'i veggio nel pensier, dolce mio fuoco, Fredda una lingua, & due begli occhi chiusi Rimaner doppo noi pien di faville.
One of these belonged to Wharton, and is now among the Egerton MSS. London: George Bell and sons, 1903 [1st edition 1891], 211-214. Though I am aware that, as it stands at present, the conclusion is of a later date; how that was originally, I have shown in my notes on the poem.'' (The four stanzas which, according to Mason, originally ended the poem will be found the conclusion as we now read the poem [Footnote: ''Mason says, 'In the first manuscript copy of this exquisite poem I find the conclusion different from that which he afterwards composed.' He has only inferred that the four stanzas were the original and endeavours thus to force this inference upon his readers.''].
in the British Museum, and this copy is therefore referred to as the ''Egerton MS.'' The two other copies were among the ''books, manuscripts, coins, music printed or written, and papers of all kinds,'' which Gray bequeathed in his will to Mason, ''to preserve or destroy at his own discretion.'' These Mason bequeathed to Stonehewer (Fellow of St. Granville John Penn, of Stoke Park, for £100; in 1854 the MS. Gosse refers to it as the ''Mason MS.''; but it may not always belong to the Fraser family; and ''Mason MS.'' is not sufficiently distinctive, as the ''Pembroke MS.'' was also Mason's. seems to have been the rough draft, and contains a greater number of original readings and alterations, the other two apparently being made from it by Gray when he had almost ceased correcting the ''Elegy,'' I shall refer to it in the Notes and Various Readings as the ''Original MS.''" Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. Gray added his after-thoughts without effacing the lines for which he meant to substitute them: this is characteristic of him, for he had a great aversion to erasure.
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[For I see in my thoughts, my sweet fire, One cold tongue, and two beautiful closed eyes Will remain full of sparks after our death.] Expanding the poem lines () shows the results of a computationally facilitated analysis of the text.