On Some Greek and Latin Poems by Thomas Gray

Baldwin, Barry
June 1994
International Journal of the Classical Tradition;Summer94, Vol. 1 Issue 1, p71
Poetry Review
To enhance the general account of Gray's Greek and Latin poetry, various pieces are analysed in detail for their extensive classical borrowings; plan English translations are juxtaposed. Attention is paid throughout to similarities of content and diction between these poems and Gray's English ones. Some special treatment is given to Gray's school and college verses, also Latin translations from the Greek Anthology where it may sometimes be possible to connect his choice of pieces with contemporary issues and personal feelings. His neglected Greek squib on smoking is examined for its verbal dexterity and wit within the context of tobacco in life and literature. Fanciful modern interpretations of (e.g.) the De Principiis Cogitandi are scouted, whilst the classical debts of the O lacrimarum fons are asserted against previous clams of dominant Old Testament influence. Finally, Gray's rights to authorship of two doubtfully ascribed poems are investigated and tentatively confirmed.


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