Thomas
Gray
Archive

"[Ode on the Pleasure Arising from Vicissitude]"

"[Ode on the Pleasure Arising from Vicissitude]"


1 Now the golden Morn aloft
2 Waves her dew-bespangled wing;
3 With vermeil cheek and whisper soft
4 She wooes the tardy spring,
5 Till April starts, and calls around
6 The sleeping fragrance from the ground;
7 And lightly o'er the living scene
8 Scatters his freshest, tenderest green.

9 New-born flocks in rustic dance
10 Frisking ply their feeble feet;
11 Forgetful of their wintry trance
12 The birds his presence greet:
13 But chief the sky-lark warbles high
14 His trembling thrilling ecstasy
15 And, lessening from the dazzled sight,
16 Melts into air and liquid light.

17 Yesterday the sullen year
18 Saw the snowy whirlwind fly;
19 Mute was the music of the air,
20 The herd stood drooping by:
21 Their raptures now that wildly flow,
22 No yesterday nor morrow know;
23 'Tis man alone that joy descries
24 With forward and reverted eyes.

25 Smiles on past Misfortune's brow
26 Soft Reflection's hand can trace;
27 And o'er the cheek of Sorrow throw
28 A melancholy grace;
29 While Hope prolongs our happier hour,
30 Or deepest shades, that dimly lower
31 And blacken round our weary way,
32 Gilds with a gleam of distant day.

33 Still, where rosy Pleasure leads,
34 See a kindred Grief pursue;
35 Behind the steps that Misery treads,
36 Approaching Comfort view:
37 The hues of bliss more brightly glow,
38 Chastised by sabler tints of woe;
39 And blended form, with artful strife,
40 The strength and harmony of life.

41 See the wretch, that long has tossed
42 On the thorny bed of pain,
43 At length repair his vigour lost,
44 And breathe and walk again:
45 The meanest flowret of the vale,
46 The simplest note that swells the gale,
47 The common sun, the air and skies,
48 To him are opening Paradise.

49 Humble Quiet builds her cell
50 Near the source whence Pleasure flows;
51 She eyes the clear crystalline well
52 And tastes it as it goes.
53 Far below [...] the crowd.
54 Broad and turbulent it grows
55 [...] with resistless sweep
56 They perish in the boundless deep

57 Mark where Indolence and Pride,
58 Softly rolling side by side,
59 Their dull but daily round.

Expanding the poem lines shows notes and queries taken from various critical editions of Gray's works, as well as those contributed by users of the Archive. There are 2 textual and 5 explanatory notes/queries.

All notes and queries are shown by default.

0 "[Ode on the Pleasure Arising from Vicissitude]" 1 Textual

Title/Paratext] "This Ode was left unfinished [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This Ode was left unfinished by Gray; it was first published by Mason in his "Memoirs" of Gray, 1775, and he "had the boldness to attempt to finish it himself, making use of some other lines and broken stanzas which Gray had written." Almost every editor of Gray's "Poems" has reprinted this Ode as defaced by Mason.
    Gray wrote what we have of this Ode probably in the winter of 1754-55. In a letter to Dr. Wharton, dated 9th March, 1755, he speaks of his objection to publishing the Ode on the "Progress of Poesy" alone; and adds:—"I have two or three ideas more in my head"; "one of these," says Mason, "was unquestionably this Ode,—since I found in his memorandum book, of 1754, a sketch of his design as follows:—Contrast between the winter past and coming spring.—Joy owing to that vicissitude.—Many that never feel that delight.—Sloth.—Envy.—Ambition. How much happier the rustic that feels it, though he knows not how.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 253-254.

Contribute a note or query


1 Now the golden Morn aloft
2 Waves her dew-bespangled wing;
3 With vermeil cheek and whisper soft
4 She wooes the tardy spring,
5 Till April starts, and calls around
6 The sleeping fragrance from the ground;
7 And lightly o'er the living scene
8 Scatters his freshest, tenderest green.

9 New-born flocks in rustic dance
10 Frisking ply their feeble feet;
11 Forgetful of their wintry trance
12 The birds his presence greet:
13 But chief the sky-lark warbles high 1 Explanatory

13.1 - 16.6 But ... light.] "Cf. Wordsworth's "To a Skylark":— [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Cf. Wordsworth's "To a Skylark":—

"To the last point of vision, and beyond,
Mount, daring warbler!—that love-prompted strain . . .
Thrills not the less the bosom of the plain.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

14 His trembling thrilling ecstasy 1 Explanatory

13.1 - 16.6 But ... light.] "Cf. Wordsworth's "To a Skylark":— [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Cf. Wordsworth's "To a Skylark":—

"To the last point of vision, and beyond,
Mount, daring warbler!—that love-prompted strain . . .
Thrills not the less the bosom of the plain.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

15 And, lessening from the dazzled sight, 1 Explanatory

13.1 - 16.6 But ... light.] "Cf. Wordsworth's "To a Skylark":— [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Cf. Wordsworth's "To a Skylark":—

"To the last point of vision, and beyond,
Mount, daring warbler!—that love-prompted strain . . .
Thrills not the less the bosom of the plain.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

16 Melts into air and liquid light. 1 Explanatory

13.1 - 16.6 But ... light.] "Cf. Wordsworth's "To a Skylark":— [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Cf. Wordsworth's "To a Skylark":—

"To the last point of vision, and beyond,
Mount, daring warbler!—that love-prompted strain . . .
Thrills not the less the bosom of the plain.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query


17 Yesterday the sullen year 1 Explanatory

17.1-4 Yesterday ... year] "[Note on stanza 'Rise, my [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"[Note on stanza 'Rise, my soul! on wings of fire,'] "I have heard Gray say, that Gresset's "Epitre à ma Soeur" gave him the first idea of this Ode; and whoever compares it with the French poem will find some slight traits of resemblance, but chiefly in our author's seventh stanza."—Mason.
    Mitford quotes the following lines from Gresset:—

"Mon âme, trop long terns flétrie
Va de nouveau s'épanouir;
Et loin de toute réverie
    Voltiger avec le Zéphire,
Occupé tout entier du soin du plaisir d'être," etc."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

18 Saw the snowy whirlwind fly;
19 Mute was the music of the air,
20 The herd stood drooping by:
21 Their raptures now that wildly flow,
22 No yesterday nor morrow know;
23 'Tis man alone that joy descries
24 With forward and reverted eyes.

25 Smiles on past Misfortune's brow 1 Explanatory

25.1 - 32.7 Smiles ... day.] "This stanza is an expansion [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This stanza is an expansion of lines 2[1]-2[4]; beasts and birds have no yesterday or to-morrow, but man has both Reflection and Hope."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

26 Soft Reflection's hand can trace; 1 Explanatory

25.1 - 32.7 Smiles ... day.] "This stanza is an expansion [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This stanza is an expansion of lines 2[1]-2[4]; beasts and birds have no yesterday or to-morrow, but man has both Reflection and Hope."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

27 And o'er the cheek of Sorrow throw 1 Explanatory

25.1 - 32.7 Smiles ... day.] "This stanza is an expansion [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This stanza is an expansion of lines 2[1]-2[4]; beasts and birds have no yesterday or to-morrow, but man has both Reflection and Hope."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

28 A melancholy grace; 1 Explanatory

25.1 - 32.7 Smiles ... day.] "This stanza is an expansion [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This stanza is an expansion of lines 2[1]-2[4]; beasts and birds have no yesterday or to-morrow, but man has both Reflection and Hope."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

29 While Hope prolongs our happier hour, 1 Explanatory

25.1 - 32.7 Smiles ... day.] "This stanza is an expansion [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This stanza is an expansion of lines 2[1]-2[4]; beasts and birds have no yesterday or to-morrow, but man has both Reflection and Hope."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

30 Or deepest shades, that dimly lower 1 Explanatory

25.1 - 32.7 Smiles ... day.] "This stanza is an expansion [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This stanza is an expansion of lines 2[1]-2[4]; beasts and birds have no yesterday or to-morrow, but man has both Reflection and Hope."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

31 And blacken round our weary way, 1 Explanatory

25.1 - 32.7 Smiles ... day.] "This stanza is an expansion [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This stanza is an expansion of lines 2[1]-2[4]; beasts and birds have no yesterday or to-morrow, but man has both Reflection and Hope."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

32 Gilds with a gleam of distant day. 1 Explanatory

25.1 - 32.7 Smiles ... day.] "This stanza is an expansion [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This stanza is an expansion of lines 2[1]-2[4]; beasts and birds have no yesterday or to-morrow, but man has both Reflection and Hope."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query


33 Still, where rosy Pleasure leads,
34 See a kindred Grief pursue;
35 Behind the steps that Misery treads,
36 Approaching Comfort view:
37 The hues of bliss more brightly glow,
38 Chastised by sabler tints of woe;
39 And blended form, with artful strife,
40 The strength and harmony of life.

41 See the wretch, that long has tossed 1 Explanatory

41.1 - 48.5 See ... Paradise.] "This is one of the [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This is one of the finest stanzas in Gray's poetry, and is quite distinct in tone from the artificial poetry of the eighteenth century, resembling in sentiment and in the ring of the verse Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality," the last lines of which may have been borrowed in part from this passage of Gray:—

"To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

42 On the thorny bed of pain, 1 Explanatory

41.1 - 48.5 See ... Paradise.] "This is one of the [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This is one of the finest stanzas in Gray's poetry, and is quite distinct in tone from the artificial poetry of the eighteenth century, resembling in sentiment and in the ring of the verse Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality," the last lines of which may have been borrowed in part from this passage of Gray:—

"To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

43 At length repair his vigour lost, 1 Explanatory

41.1 - 48.5 See ... Paradise.] "This is one of the [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This is one of the finest stanzas in Gray's poetry, and is quite distinct in tone from the artificial poetry of the eighteenth century, resembling in sentiment and in the ring of the verse Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality," the last lines of which may have been borrowed in part from this passage of Gray:—

"To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

44 And breathe and walk again: 1 Explanatory

41.1 - 48.5 See ... Paradise.] "This is one of the [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This is one of the finest stanzas in Gray's poetry, and is quite distinct in tone from the artificial poetry of the eighteenth century, resembling in sentiment and in the ring of the verse Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality," the last lines of which may have been borrowed in part from this passage of Gray:—

"To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

45 The meanest flowret of the vale, 1 Explanatory

41.1 - 48.5 See ... Paradise.] "This is one of the [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This is one of the finest stanzas in Gray's poetry, and is quite distinct in tone from the artificial poetry of the eighteenth century, resembling in sentiment and in the ring of the verse Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality," the last lines of which may have been borrowed in part from this passage of Gray:—

"To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

46 The simplest note that swells the gale, 1 Explanatory

41.1 - 48.5 See ... Paradise.] "This is one of the [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This is one of the finest stanzas in Gray's poetry, and is quite distinct in tone from the artificial poetry of the eighteenth century, resembling in sentiment and in the ring of the verse Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality," the last lines of which may have been borrowed in part from this passage of Gray:—

"To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

47 The common sun, the air and skies, 1 Explanatory

41.1 - 48.5 See ... Paradise.] "This is one of the [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This is one of the finest stanzas in Gray's poetry, and is quite distinct in tone from the artificial poetry of the eighteenth century, resembling in sentiment and in the ring of the verse Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality," the last lines of which may have been borrowed in part from this passage of Gray:—

"To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query

48 To him are opening Paradise. 1 Explanatory

41.1 - 48.5 See ... Paradise.] "This is one of the [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This is one of the finest stanzas in Gray's poetry, and is quite distinct in tone from the artificial poetry of the eighteenth century, resembling in sentiment and in the ring of the verse Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality," the last lines of which may have been borrowed in part from this passage of Gray:—

"To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 254.

Contribute a note or query


49 Humble Quiet builds her cell
50 Near the source whence Pleasure flows;
51 She eyes the clear crystalline well 1 Explanatory

51.5 crystalline] "a Miltonic word, "crystalline sphere," [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"a Miltonic word, "crystalline sphere," "Par. Lost," iii. 482; "the crystalline sky," vi. 772; "crystalline ocean," vii. 271; the "cool crystalline stream," "Samson Agonistes," 546."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 255.

Contribute a note or query

52 And tastes it as it goes.
53 Far below [...] the crowd. 1 Textual

53.1 - 59.5 Far ... round.] "The following incomplete lines are [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"The following incomplete lines are in Gray's MS. Mason filled up the gaps, and added three stanzas more.

"Far below             the crowd,
Where broad and turbulent it grows
            with resistless sweep
They perish in the boundless deep.
Mark where Indolence and Pride,
Softly rolling, side by side,
    Their dull, but daily round.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 255.

Contribute a note or query

54 Broad and turbulent it grows 1 Textual

53.1 - 59.5 Far ... round.] "The following incomplete lines are [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"The following incomplete lines are in Gray's MS. Mason filled up the gaps, and added three stanzas more.

"Far below             the crowd,
Where broad and turbulent it grows
            with resistless sweep
They perish in the boundless deep.
Mark where Indolence and Pride,
Softly rolling, side by side,
    Their dull, but daily round.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 255.

Contribute a note or query

55 [...] with resistless sweep 1 Textual

53.1 - 59.5 Far ... round.] "The following incomplete lines are [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"The following incomplete lines are in Gray's MS. Mason filled up the gaps, and added three stanzas more.

"Far below             the crowd,
Where broad and turbulent it grows
            with resistless sweep
They perish in the boundless deep.
Mark where Indolence and Pride,
Softly rolling, side by side,
    Their dull, but daily round.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 255.

Contribute a note or query

56 They perish in the boundless deep 1 Textual

53.1 - 59.5 Far ... round.] "The following incomplete lines are [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"The following incomplete lines are in Gray's MS. Mason filled up the gaps, and added three stanzas more.

"Far below             the crowd,
Where broad and turbulent it grows
            with resistless sweep
They perish in the boundless deep.
Mark where Indolence and Pride,
Softly rolling, side by side,
    Their dull, but daily round.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 255.

Contribute a note or query


57 Mark where Indolence and Pride, 1 Textual

53.1 - 59.5 Far ... round.] "The following incomplete lines are [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"The following incomplete lines are in Gray's MS. Mason filled up the gaps, and added three stanzas more.

"Far below             the crowd,
Where broad and turbulent it grows
            with resistless sweep
They perish in the boundless deep.
Mark where Indolence and Pride,
Softly rolling, side by side,
    Their dull, but daily round.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 255.

Contribute a note or query

58 Softly rolling side by side, 1 Textual

53.1 - 59.5 Far ... round.] "The following incomplete lines are [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"The following incomplete lines are in Gray's MS. Mason filled up the gaps, and added three stanzas more.

"Far below             the crowd,
Where broad and turbulent it grows
            with resistless sweep
They perish in the boundless deep.
Mark where Indolence and Pride,
Softly rolling, side by side,
    Their dull, but daily round.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 255.

Contribute a note or query

59 Their dull but daily round. 1 Textual

53.1 - 59.5 Far ... round.] "The following incomplete lines are [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"The following incomplete lines are in Gray's MS. Mason filled up the gaps, and added three stanzas more.

"Far below             the crowd,
Where broad and turbulent it grows
            with resistless sweep
They perish in the boundless deep.
Mark where Indolence and Pride,
Softly rolling, side by side,
    Their dull, but daily round.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 255.

Contribute a note or query

Works cited

  • The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891.

You can use this form to contribute an annotation to or a query about the selected passage. Your contribution will be sent to the editor for review, and will subsequently appear together with your contact details as part of the existing commentary. All contributions are covered under the Open Publication License v1.0. Please note that the form will only be submitted to the editor if all required fields are filled in. Thank you for your contribution!

Contribute a note or query

  line(s)     to  



Your details






Spelling has been modernized throughout, except in case of conscious archaisms. Contractions, italics and initial capitalization have been largely eliminated, except where of real import. Obvious errors have been silently corrected, punctuation has been supplied. The editor would like to express his gratitude to the library staff of the Göttingen State and University Library (SUB Göttingen) for their invaluable assistance.