I urge all to listen to The brilliant lecture
Of Professor Belinda Jack
It includes a beautiful reading of the poem
Thomas Gray (1716 to 1771) is considered, after Alexander Pope, the second most important English poet of the eighteenth century. In his life time, he published only thirteen poems, about a thousand lines in all. His "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" is an exquisite deeply moving account of thoughts generated by his visit to a humble country graveyard.
As I learned from Professor Jack's lecture, it makes deep references to other English poems, thus mirroring the evocation of memory. One of the main purposes of my blog is to act as my reading journal, I don't feel inclined right now to make many comments on this work. I first read it around fifty years ago, long before I contemplated my own mortality. This time I listened to three readings of the poem, all on YouTube, and read it after each reading. (The estimated Reading time is under ten minutes). As you read it, I think you will see numerous phrases that have passed into the vocabulary, echoed by those who have never heard of Thomas Gray.
"Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" must surely be one of the most beautiful poems in the English language. It epitomizes the English Romantic era attitude toward history, death, nature, and remembrance. All literary autodidacts should have this on their life time list.
I hope to return to this poem next month when I reflect on the attitude toward death and memory shown in a recent story by one of Ireland's greatest contemporary writers, Desmond Hogan. I see a marked transition between Gray to the world of "The Wasteland" on to Hogan.
I am requesting suggestions as to American authored poems, with a reading time under thirty minutes, upon which I might post. Thanks