"[Epitaph on Mrs Mason]"
"[Epitaph on Mrs Mason]"
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 1 textual and 1 explanatory notes/queries.
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Title/Paratext] "Mason's wife died in March, [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.
"Mason's wife died in March, 1767, and he erected a monument to her in the Cathedral at Bristol, with the following inscription:—
Mary, the daughter of William Sherman,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, p. 270.
of Kingston upon Hull, Esq.
and wife of the Rev. William Mason,
Died March 27, 1767, aged 28.
Take, holy earth! all that my soul holds dear:
Take that best gift which Heaven so lately gave:
To Bristol's fount I bore with trembling care
Her faded form: she bowed to taste the wave,
And died. Does Youth, Does Beauty, read the line?
Does sympathetic fear their breasts alarm?
Speak, dead Maria! breathe a strain divine:
E'en from the grave thou shalt have power to charm.
Bid them be chaste, be innocent like thee;
Bid them in Duty's sphere as meekly move;
And if so fair, from vanity as free,
As firm in friendship, and as fond in love,
Tell them, though 'tis an awful thing to die
('Twas e'en to thee) yet the dread path once trod,
Heaven lifts its everlasting portals high,
And bids the pure in heart behold their God."
Title/Paratext] "A copy of it appeared [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.
"A copy of it appeared in the "Gentleman's Magazine" for January, 1794, and it was always assumed that the whole of the epitaph was by Mason till the "Reminiscences of
Norton Nicholls" were published by Mitford in 1843, in which he states
that when Mason sent what he had writen to Gray, he showed it to Nichols,
saying, "that will never do for an ending. I have altered them
thus," and wrote in it the last four lines as they now stand.
In a letter to Mason, not published by him, dated May 23, 1767, Gray refers to the epitaph and to the line "Heaven lifts, etc." being his."
- 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.
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