"The Sonnet is No. 97 in ed. Giacomo Leopardi, Florence 1847, l. 12 'freddo foco e paventosa speme,' said by Petrarch of his love kept in check by Laura. Gray might have found the same expression nearer home in a more apposite context, e.g. Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity B. I. xi.  where it is said that Hope's highest object is 'that everlasting Goodness which in Christ doth quicken the dead,' and that she 'begins here with a trembling expectation of things far removed and as yet but only heard of' &c.
There is, however, surely a boldness the reverse of happy as well as some confusion of thought in speaking of a man's frailties as reposing in trembling hope on the bosom of God. The words of Gray himself to Mason recur to the mind 'all I can say is that your elegy should not end with the worst line in it.' "
"In the Pembroke MS. of the ''Elegy'' Gray has entered after this stanza: ''Insert
There scattered oft, the earliest of the year,This stanza, which may be described as ''the redbreast stanza,'' was first printed in the third edition of the ''Elegy,'' the date of which I have been able to fix as March, 1751, as I find the ''Elegy'' with the redbreast stanza in the ''Scots' Magazine'' for that month, and it was then published in the end of the month. Opposite this stanza in the Pembroke MS. Gray has written ''Omitted, 1753.'' Mason states that the reason for his omitting it was ''because he thought that it was too long a parenthesis in this place.'' Another reason may be that this stanza was different in character from the preceding, as it dealt in fancies whereas the former described facts. Also he may have noted the resemblence it bears to some expressions and lines in Collins' ''Dirge in Cymbeline'' (pub. 1747): -
By hands unseen, are showers of violets found;
The red-breast loves to build, and warble there,
And little footsteps lightly print the ground.''
''Soft maids and village hinds shall bring
Each opening sweet of earliest bloom. ...
The red-breast oft, at evening hours,
Shall kindly lend its little aid,'' etc."
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During his campaign, Trump threatened unspecified punishments for women who tried to abort a child. We watched him, in the second debate, prowling behind his opponent, back and forth with lowered head, belligerent and looming, while she moved within her legitimate space, returning to her lectern after each response: tightly smiling, trying to be reasonable, trying to be impervious. It was an indecent mimicry of what has happened at some point to almost every woman. She becomes aware of something brutal hovering, on the periphery of her vision: if she is alone in the street, what should she do? I willed Mrs. Clinton to turn and give a name to what we could all see. I willed Mrs. Clinton to raise an arm like a goddess, and point to the place her rival came from, and send him back there, into his own space, like a whimpering dog.
Not everything, of course, is apparent to the eye. The psyche has its hidden life and so do the streets. Midtown, the subway gratings puff out their hot breath, testament to a busy subterranean life; but you could not guess that millions of books are housed under Bryant Park, and that beneath the ground runs a system of train tracks, like toys for a studious giant. Activated by a scholar’s desire or whim, the volumes career on rails, in red wagons, toward the readers of the New York Public Library. Ignorant pedestrians jink and swerve, while below them the earth stirs. We are oblivious of information until we are ready for it. One day, we feel a resonance, from the soles of the feet to the cranium. Without mediation, without apology, we read ourselves, and know what we know.
"The first notable criticism of the Elegy did not appear until the 1780s. Johnson's brief but eloquent tribute in the Lives of the Poets (1781) was followed in more senses than one in 1783 by John Young's Criticism of the Elegy (2nd edn, 1810), a detailed discussion of the poem in a manner deliberately imitating Johnson's. There is also a chapter on the Elegy in John Scott's Critical Essays (1785) pp. 185-246. Discussion of the poem in the next century tended to be pre-occupied with such matters as G.'s sources, the location of the churchyard and G.'s relationship to the 'Age of Reason', and to attempt little more critically than general appreciation of G.'s eloquence, along the lines of Johnson's tribute. Some recent discussions of the poem, in addition to those mentioned above, which should be consulted are: Roger Martin, Essai sur Thomas Gray (Paris, 1934) pp. 409-36; William Empson, Some Versions of Pastoral (1935) p. 4; Cleanth Brooks, The Well Wrought Urn (1949) pp. 96-113; F. W. Bateson, English Poetry: A Critical Introduction (1950) pp. 181-93; and three essays by Ian Jack, B. H. Bronson and Frank Brady in From Sensibility to Romanticism, ed. F. W. Hilles and H. Bloom (1965) pp. 139-89. Amy L. Reed's The Background to Gray's Elegy (New York, 1924), investigates melancholy as a subject in earlier eighteenth-century poetry, but does not throw a great deal of light on the poem itself.
The crucial fact about the poem, of which by no means all discussions of the Elegy take account, is that we possess two distinct versions of it: the version which originally ended with the four rejected stanzas in the Eton MS, and the familiar, revised and expanded version. Many of the difficulties in the interpretation of the poem can be clarified if the two versions are examined in turn. As has been stated above, Mason's assertion that the first version of the poem ended with the rejected stanzas appears to be fully justified. In this form the Elegy is a well-constructed poem, in some ways more balanced and lucid than in its final version. The three opening stanzas brilliantly setting the poem and the poet in the churchyard, are followed by four balanced sections each of four stanzas, dealing in turn with the lives of the humble villagers; by contrast, with the lives of the great; with the way in which the villagers are deprived of the opportunities of greatness; and by contrast, with the crimes inextricably involved in success as the 'thoughtless world' knows it, from which the villagers are protected. The last three stanzas, balancing the opening three, return to the poet himself in the churchyard, making clear that the whole poem has been a debate within his mind as he meditates in the darkness, at the end of which he makes his own choice about the preferability of obscure innocence to the dangers of the 'great world'. (It is the personal involvement of the poet and his desire to share the obscure destiny of the villagers in this version of the poem which make Empson's ingenious remarks in Some Versions of Pastoral ultimately irrelevant and misleading.)
Underlying the whole structure of the first version of the Elegy, reinforcing the poet's rejection of the great world and supplying many details of thought and phrasing, are two celebrated classical poems in praise of rural retirement from the corruption of the court and city: the passage beginning O fortunatos nimium in Virgil's Georgics ii 458 ff and Horace's second Epode, (Beatus ille ...). For a study of the pervasive influence of these poems on English poetry in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries, see Maren-Sofie Rostvig, The Happy Man (2 vols, Oslo, 1954-58). In the concluding 'rejected' stanzas of the first version of the Elegy the classical praise of retirement is successfully blended with the Christian consolation that this world is nothing but vanity and that comfort for the afflicted will come in the next, although G.'s handling of the religious theme is very restrained. His tact and unobtrusiveness are all the more marked when his poem is compared with the emotional, even melodramatic, effects to which the other 'graveyard' practitioners - Young, Blair and Hervey - are prepared to resort when handling the same themes. The appendix to the poem (see p. 140), giving some parallels between these final stanzas and Hervey in particular, will suggest G.'s relationship to the religious meditators, but he shares none of their cemetery horrors and emotional over-indulgence. The classical or 'Augustan' restraint and balance which preserved him from such excesses is a strength which is manifested similarly in the balanced structure of the poem as a whole, as well as in the balancing effect of the basic quatrain unit.
The conclusion of the first version of the Elegy ultimately failed to satisfy G., partly perhaps because it was too explicitly personal for publication, but also no doubt because its very symmetry and order represented an over-simplification of his own predicament, of the way he saw his own life and wished it to be seen by society. A simple identification with the innocent but uneducated villagers was mere self-deception. G.'s continuation of the poem may lack some of the clarity, control and authority of the earlier stanzas, but it does represent a genuine attempt to redefine and justify his real relationship with society more accurately by merging it with a dramatisation of the social role played by poetry or the Poet. As G. starts to rewrite the poem, the simple antitheses of rich and poor, of vice and virtue, of life and death, which underlay the first version, are replaced by a preoccupation with the desire to be remembered after death, a concern which draws together both rich and poor, making the splendid monuments and the 'frail memorials' equally pathetic. This theme, which runs counter to the earlier resignation to obscurity and the expectation of 'eternal peace' hereafter, leads G. to contemplate the sort of ways in which he, or the Poet into whom he projects himself, may be remembered after his death, and the assessments he gives in the words of the 'hoary-headed swain' and of the 'Epitaph' (not necessarily meant to be identical) also evaluate the role of poetry in society. The figure of the Poet is no longer the urban, urbane, worldly, rational Augustan man among men, with his own place in society; what G. dramatises is the poet as outsider, with an uneasy consciousness of a sensibility and imagination at once unique and burdensome. The lack of social function so apparent in English poetry of the mid- and late eighteenth-century is constantly betrayed by its search for inspiration in the past. Significantly, G.'s description of the lonely, melancholy poet is riddled with phrases and diction borrowed from Spenser, Shakespeare and Milton. The texture of these stanzas is fanciful, consciously 'poetic', archaic in tone.
If the swain's picture of the lonely Poet is respectful but puzzled, emphasising the unique and somehow valuable sensibility which characterises him, the 'Epitaph', from a different standpoint, assesses that sensibility as the source of such social virtues as pity and benevolence (see l. 120n). G.'s Pindaric Odes of the 1750s were to show his continuing preoccupation with the subject of the function of poetry in society: for all his assertions of its value, the deliberate obscurity of the poems themselves betrays G.'s own conviction that poetry could not and perhaps should not any longer attempt to communicate with society as a whole. The central figure of himself is a not totally unpredictable development of the Poet at the end of the Elegy: more defiant in his belief that poetry and liberty in society are inseparably involved with each other and his awareness of the forces which are hostile to poetry; equally isolated and equally, if more spectacularly, doomed.
Two marginal problems associated with the Elegy may be mentioned in conclusion. The early nineteenth-century tradition that General Wolfe, on the night before the capture of Quebec from the French in 1759, declared, 'I would rather have been the author of that piece than beat the French tomorrow', is examined in detail by F. G. Stokes in an appendix to his edn of the Elegy (Oxford, 1929) pp. 83-8. Stokes also deals in another appendix (pp. 89-92), with the tiresome question of 'The Locality of the Churchyard'. Not surprisingly, no definite identification of the churchyard can be made, in spite of the number of candidates for the honour. (In his own lifetime, G. was already having to deny that he had been describing a churchyard he had never visited.) Anyone versed in the 'graveyard' poetry and prose of the mid-eighteenth-century will be satisfied that G. borrowed the traditional apparatus of his churchyard from no particular location."
Astonishingly, the main political beneficiary of all this energy was Donald Trump, a plutocrat with a long history of taking on too much debt, stiffing his business partners, and not paying taxes. But, while most of his primary opponents ran on more familiar limited-government themes, and Hillary Clinton was fending off the attack from Sanders, Trump figured out that a Republican could run against Wall Street. He made unsubstantiated, sweeping, and brutally effective attacks on Clinton for having “done nothing” for thirty years about the economic troubles of middle-class and poor Americans.
"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.''
I hope that the reader will excuse this digression. It is perhaps not entirely useless at the moment when, coming straight from the books of the Saint-Simonians, of the advocates of phalansteries, and of the admirers of Icaria, tirades against the middlemen fill the press and the Assembly and seriously menace the freedom of labor and exchange.
"These lines on unfulfilled greatness among the villagers have been compared to Dryden, Annus Mirabilis 849-54: 'As when some dire Usurper Heav'n provides, / To scourge his Country with a lawless sway: / His birth, perhaps, some petty Village hides, / And sets his Cradle out of Fortune's way: // Till fully ripe his swelling fate breaks out, / And hurries him to mighty mischief on'; and Shenstone, The Schoolmistress (1745) st. xxvii-xxix, in which 'The firm fixed breast which fit and right requires, / Like Vernon's patriot soul', a potential Milton, and other great men are seen in embryo among the schoolchildren. Thomson's panegyric of England's 'sons of glory' in Summer 1488-91, 1493, includes: 'a steady More, / Who, with a generous though mistaken zeal, / Withstood a brutal tyrant's useful rage; / Like Cato firm ... / A dauntless soul erect, who smiled on death.' Thomson goes on to mention in this passage (not expanded to this form until 1744) Hampden, l. 1515: 'Wise, strenuous, firm, of unsubmitting soul'; and Milton, ll. 1567-71. As is shown below, G[ray].'s instances of greatness were originally classical in the Eton MS. The alteration to Hampden, Milton and Cromwell corresponds to the fact that the continuation of the poem after the original ending is markedly less classical and more English in character. But G. also wanted examples of greatness which had proved dangerous to society (as opposed to the innocence of the villagers) and the Civil War, 100 years earlier, provided him with three convenient examples. For all their individual qualities, these three men had been responsible in one way or another for bringing turmoil to their country. Without assenting to the identification of the churchyard with Stoke Poges, it is possible to accept Tovey's suggestion that G. may also have been influenced to some extent by the Buckinghamshire connections of Milton, who spent several early years at Horton, and Hampden, whose family home was at Great Hampden, where he was often visited by Cromwell."