Biography of Thomas Gray
Gray's father was a scrivener while his mother and aunt kept a milliner's shop. He led a quiet, studious life in the main, training in law after his degree at Cambridge and then becoming a history done at Peterhouse.
Gray formed a friendship with Walpole which was broken off as a result of a disagreement during a "Grand Tour of Europe" (1734-39), though they were eventually reconciled in 1745. This friendship was important to Gray's literary career and Walpole later published The Progress of Poetry and The Bard, an impassioned summary of English history, on his Strawberry Hill Press. Gray sent his Ode on the Spring to an Etonian friend, Richard West, who died shortly afterwards, prompting the Sonnet on the Death of West. Gray was immensely popular and helped to create a new taste in poetry; fertile ground for the romantic poets to follow him. In 1757 at the death of the Poet
Laureate Cibber, the post was offered to Gray, but he refused it.
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The Progress of Poesy
Awake, Aeolian lyre, awake,
And give to rapture all thy trembling strings.
From Helicon's harmonious springs
A thousand rills their mazy progress take:
The laughing flowers that round them blow
Drink life and fragrance as they flow.
Now the rich stream of Music winds along,
Deep, majestic, smooth, and strong,
Thro' verdant vales, and Ceres' golden reign;