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Free Elegy Essays and Papers - 123HelpMe
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.'"
Examples of famous Contrast poetry from the past and present
"After this follows in Fraser MS.,
''The thoughtless World to Majesty may bow''And here,'' says Mason, ''the poem was originally intended to conclude, before the happy idea of 'the hoary-headed Swain &c.' suggested itself to him.''
Exalt the brave, and idolize Success
But more to Innocence their Safety owe
Than Power and Genius e'er conspired to bless
And thou, who mindful of the unhonour'd Dead
Dost in these Notes thy (their written above) artless Tale relate
By Night and lonely Contemplation led
To linger in the gloomy walks of Fate
Hark how the sacred Calm, that broods around
Bids ev'ry fierce tumultuous Passion cease
In still small Accents whisp'ring from the Ground
A grateful Earnest of eternal Peace [Footnote: ''see additional note, p. 292.'']
No more with Reason and thyself at Strife
Give anxious Cares and endless Wishes room
But thro the cool sequester'd Vale of Life
Pursue the silent Tenour of thy Doom''
Mason perhaps converted Walpole by a reference to the state of this MS., which no doubt establishes an interval between the first and second half of the poem. But he ante-dated, it maybe suspected, the composition of the first half.
The Fraser MS. (to judge from the facsimile) has a line drawn along the side of the last three, and possibly meant (as Sir W. Fraser's reprint interprets it) to include the first also of these four stanzas.
The stanzas which follow these four are: Far from the madding crowd's &c. as in the received text (with minor variations to be noted), down to 'fires,' .
All the MS. to the end of the four rejected Stanzas is in a much more faded character; and Mason must be at least so far right that the Poem from 'Far from the madding %c.' was resumed after a considerable interval.
But we have only Mason's authority for the statement that the Elegy was ever meant to end with these four stanzas, and it is very questionable. We may be biased by the completeness of the poem in its published form, - but surely without this contrast to assist our judgment it would have seemed to us to finish badly and abruptly with ''Pursue the silent Tenour of thy Doom.''
And if this ending would not satisfy us it could not have satisfied Gray. Again, it is probable from the MS. that down to 'Doom' the Elegy was all written much about the same time, or as the Germans say, in einem Guss. Suppose then it had reached that point in 1742, and this is probably what Mason means when he suggests that it may have been concluded then; is it conceivable that Gray, who had communicated to Walpole other completed poems of that date, and even the fragmentary , would have kept back the Elegy, which ex hypothesi he must have regarded as finished? Yet Walpole, as we have seen, is certain that Gray sent him only the first three stanzas, two or three years after the year 1742. Surely either these twelve lines were all that Gray had then written, or they were a specimen only of the unfinished poem."
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"Mitford gives these parallels (the exact references are due to Dr Phelps):
William Chamberlayne, Pharonnida (London, 1659, Book IV. canto 5, p. 94):
''Like beauteous flowers which vainly waste the scentFrom Ambrose Philips (1671-1749) The Fable of Thule:
Of odors in unhaunted deserts.''
''Like beauteous flowers, which paint the desert glades,From Young, Universal Passion , Sat. V. ll. 229-232:
And waste their sweets in unfrequented shades.''
''In distant wilds, by human eyes unseenMr Yardley in Notes and Queries (Sept. 1, 1894) suggests that Gray imitated Waller's 'Go, lovely Rose':
She rears her flow'rs, and spreads her velvet green.
Pure gurgling rills the lonely desert trace
And waste their music on the savage race.''
''Tell her that's youngPerhaps this is the starting-point in the line of succession of the poetical idea for Gray: but it passes through Pope and comes nearer in the form:
And shuns to have her graces spied
That, hadst thou sprung
In deserts where no men abide,
Thou must have uncommended died.''
''There kept my charms concealed from mortal eye,This idea Pope cherished, for he gave it, in an improved form, to Thomson for the Seasons: the lines in the episode of Lavinia, Autumn, 209-214,
Like roses that in deserts bloom and die.''
Rape of the Lock, iv. 157, 158.
''As in the hollow breast of Apennine,are to be seen, in a handwriting, probably Pope's, in an interleaved copy of the Seasons (ed. 1738) in the British Museum [C 28 E.] Whether Gray had seen these lines, not published until 1744, will depend upon the date we assign to this portion of the Elegy."
Beneath the shelter of encircling hills,
A myrtle rises, far from human eye,
And breathes its balmy fragrance o'er the hills,
So flourished blooming, and unseen by all,
The sweet Lavinia.''