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The Life and Works of Thomas Gray

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  1. Each review document contains a description of the work that is being reviewed, a summary of the work and a critical assessment of the work (or works) being reviewed.
  2. The Life and Works of John Keats
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  1. Read the text and find the answers to the following questions:

· What aspects of Gray’s childhood were reflected in his works?

· What is the most productive period in Gray’s creative activity?

· Were many of Gray’s works published?



Born on 26 December 1716 at 41 Cornhill London, Thomas Gray was the fifth and only surviving child out of eight children born to Dorothy and Philip Gray. Thomas’s parents were not in a happy and good relation. Like most of men of letters, Thomas also had a distressed and broken childhood and the consequences of that misery were quite obvious on his later life and his works.

Gray’s first publication was the “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College“, written in 1742. The spring and summer of 1742 was the period when Gray could be seen at the pinnacle of his creative enthusiasm. Though he did tremendous poetic efforts during this period of time yet most of his works like “Agrippina” and the “Hymn to Ignorance” remained incomplete. In addition to these poems, the scenery and natural songs of Buckinghamshire countryside inspired him so much as he had to write an opera-like “Ode on the spring”.

In 1747 and the following year Gray began to complete his incomplete poem on the “Alliance of Education and Government”. In 1748, the first three volumes of Dodsley collection appeared, the second volume consisted of Gray’s Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College“, the “Ode on the Spring, and the “Ode on the Death of a Favorite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes” the last was one of Gray’s most light-hearted poems in memory of Walpole’s drowned pet cat, Selma. It is said that Gray’s masterpiece “Elegy” was written in the graveyard of the church. Gray ranked his two Pindaric odes “The Progress of Poesy” and “The Brad” his best works.

Gray’s works and his poems got little attention at that time but there was some awareness that a new poet had arrived on a scene. Gray’s self critical nature and fear of failure not permitted him to be a productive poet. His published works consisted of only 13 poems and less than 1000 lines. However, his poems are a precious treasure of English literature and his services that he provided in the form of his works will always be remembered.

On July 30, 1771 Gray died in Cambridge and was buried along with his mother in the Churchyard of Stoke Pages.



pinnacle – вершина, апофеоз

drowned – утонувший

graveyard – кладбище

awareness – знание, осознание

Pindaric – пиндарические (стихи, оды), т.е. в стиле древнегреческого поэта Пиндара

Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College“ – Ода виду издали на колледж в Итоне


  1. Look through the text again and find words and constructions you may use in your professional discourse (scientific terms etc.). Translate and memorize them.
  2. Find the transcription of the following words and practise pronouncing them: consequence, tremendous, masterpiece, failure.
  3. Decide whether the following statements are true or false according to the text:

· Gray had a loving and tightly-knit family.

· Some of Gray’s works are unfinished.

· One of Gray’s poems is devoted to an animal.

· Gray was very ambitious and self-confident.

· Gray’s contribution to literature was appreciated much later.



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