What Influenced Thomas Gray's Life

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How Thomas Gray’s life affected his work Thomas Gray was one of the most influential poets during the 18th century and produced many widely known poems and works of literature throughout his life. Many events within his life contributed to his style and topics while writing his poetry. The works of Thomas Gray were influenced by the death of his close friend, Richard West, his time spent on The Grand Tour with Walpole, and the time he spent at Eton College as a professor and a scholar. Thomas Gray’s life is generally split into three time periods, then early years, the middle years and the later years. The first stage of Thomas Gray’s life is the early years. This includes his childhood, his time at Eton College, his friendship with Ashton, …show more content…
In 1738 Walpole invited Gray to accompany him on a grand tour of Europe. The grand tour of this time involved touring the European continent and visiting the countries capitals and literary rich cities. Throughout the tour Gray met various poets and read much literature. Much of what Gray learned and studied during the trip resulted in him trying to mimic the poems and literature. Gray started many works during this time but only finished a few. Agrippina and De principiis cogitandi are just some of the works Gray started but never finished due to criticism by friends he sent fragments of the work to. The Grand Tour sadly ended abruptly after Gray and Walpole had a disagreement over an unknown issue. Gray returned to Great Britain and retired to his quarters at Eton College where he spent the rest of his time working on his literature and teaching sporadically. There Gray produced many ballads, one of them being A Long Story “Who prowled the country far and near / Bewitched the children of the peasants / dried up the cows and lamed the deer / And sucked the eggs and killed the pheasant” (Mack 4). After returning to Great Britain, Gray started to focus on Nordic and Welsh odes and studied them …show more content…
However, one exception was Richard West, who was a loyal and good friend of Gray. Gray formed a lasting and strong friendship with West and considered their friendship sacred. West would review Gray’s work and comment on it, some of his comments would often change how Gray wrote and resulted in a change in his writing style. One piece of literature Gray was working on was a tragic by the name of Agrippina. However, when Gray sent a fragment of it to West in Paris, West did not approve of the piece and voiced his opinion to Gray. After Gray considered West’s reaction to the piece, he abruptly stopped working on it. West played an important role in Gray’s life as a friend as well as a literary critic. When Gray arrived back in Great Britain after parting ways with Walpole after a disagreement, he returned to find West in a fragile state and suffering from severe tuberculosis. Soon after, West died of consumption. The death was unexpected and “Except for his mother, West was the person most dear to Gray; and his death from consumption on June 1, 1742 was a grievous loss to the poet” (Poetry Foundation 3). Soon after, Gray published a poem by the name of On the Death of Richard West, which is a solemn and sad poem “The fields to all their wonted tribute bear; / To warm their little loves the birds complain; / I fruitless mourn to him that cannot

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