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"[Lines on Dr Robert Smith]"

"[Lines on Dr Robert Smith]"


1 Do you ask why old Focus Silvanus defies,
2     And leaves not a chestnut in being?
3 'Tis not that old Focus himself has got eyes,
4     But because he has writ about seeing.

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0 "[Lines on Dr Robert Smith]" 1 Explanatory

Title/Paratext] "The stanza was first printed [...]" H.W. Starr/J.R. Hendrickson, 1966.

"The stanza was first printed by Gosse in his revised edition of Gray's poems, where he introduced it as

written on the occasion of the threatened destruction of the Chestnuts at Trinity by Dr. Robert Smith (1689-1768), Master of that college, and author of a treatise on Optics, in consequence of which he got the nickname of Old Focus. They were preserved by Prof. Adam Sedgwick.
Gosse appends to the poem the note 'There was a second stanza' but gives no further information of any sort."

The Complete Poems of Thomas Gray: English, Latin and Greek. Edited by Herbert W. Starr and J. R. Hendrickson. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1966, 236.

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1 Do you ask why old Focus Silvanus defies,
2     And leaves not a chestnut in being?
3 'Tis not that old Focus himself has got eyes,
4     But because he has writ about seeing.

Works cited

  • The Complete Poems of Thomas Gray: English, Latin and Greek. Edited by Herbert W. Starr and J. R. Hendrickson. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1966.

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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.