Thomas
Gray
Archive

[Orders of Insects]

[Orders of Insects]


[I. Coleoptera]

1 Alas lorica tectas Coleoptera jactant.

*[Antennis clavatis]

2 Serra pedum prodit Scarabaeum et fissile cornu.
3 Dermesti antennae circum ambit lamina caulem,
4 Qui caput incurvum timidus sub corpore celat.
5 In pectus retrahens caput abdit claviger Hister.
6 Occiput Attelabi in posticum vergit acumen.
7 Curculio ingenti protendit cornua rostro.
8 Silpha leves peltae atque elytrorum exporrigit oras.
9 Truncus apex clavae, atque antennula Coccionellae.

**[Antennis filiformibus]

10 Cassida sub clypei totam se margine condit.
11 Chrys'mela inflexa loricae stringitur ora.
12 Gibba caput Meloe incurvat, thorace rotundo.
13 Oblongus frontem et tenues clypei exerit oras
14 Tenebrio. Abdomen Mordellae lamina vestit.
15 Curta elytra ostentat Staphylis, caudamque recurvam.

***[Antennis setaceis]

16 Tubere cervicis valet, antennisque Cerambyx.
17 Pectore Leptura est tereti, corpusque coarctat.
18 Flexile Cantharidis tegmen, laterumque papillae.
19 Ast Elater resilit sterni mucrone supinus.
20 Maxilla exerta est, oculoque Cicindela grandi.
21 Bupresti antennae graciles, cervice retracta.
22 Nec Dytiscus iners setosa remige planta.
23 Effigiem cordis Carabus dat pectore trunco.
24 Necydalis curto ex elytro nudam explicat alam.
25 Curtum, at Forficulae tegit hanc, cum forcipe caudae.
26 Depressum Blattae corpus, venterque bicornis.
27 Dente vorax Gryllus deflexis saltitat alis.

II. [Hemiptera]

28 (Dimidiam rostrata gerunt Hemiptera crustam.
29 Foemina serpit humi interdum: volat aethere conjux.)

30 Rostro Nepa rapax pollet, chelisque. Cicada
31 Fastigio alarum et rostrato pectore saltat.
32 Tela Cimex inflexa gerit, cruce complicat alas.
33 Notonecta crucem quoque fert, remosque pedales;
34 Cornua Aphis caudae et rostrum: saepe erigit alas;
35 Deprimit has Chermes, dum saltat, pectore gibbo.
36 Coccus iners caudae setas, volitante marito;
37 Thrips alas angusta gerit, caudamque recurvam.

III. [Lepidoptera]

38 (Squamam alae, linguae spiram Lepidoptera jactant.)

39 Papilio clavam et squamosas subrigit alas.
40 Prismaticas Sphinx antennas, medioque tumentes;
41 At conicas gravis extendit sub nocte Phalaena.

IV. [Neuroptera]

42 (Rete alae nudum, atque hamos Neuroptera caudae.)

43 Dente alisque potens, secat aethera longa Libella.
44 Cauda setigera, erectis stat Ephemera pennis.
45 Phryganea elinguis rugosas deprimit alas;
46 Hemerinusque bidens: planas tamen explicat ille.
47 Et rostro longo et cauda Panorpa minatur.
48 Raphidia extento collo setam trahit unam.

V. [Hymenoptera]

49 (At vitreas alas, jaculumque Hymenoptera caudae,
50 Foemineo data tela gregi, maribusque negata.)

51 Telum abdit spirale Cynips, morsuque minatur.
52 Maxillas Tenthredo movet, serramque bivalvem;
53 Ichneumon gracili triplex abdomine telum.
54 Haurit Apis lingua incurva, quod vindicat ense.
55 Sphex alam expandit laevem, gladiumque recondit.
56 Alae ruga notat Vespam, caudaeque venenum;
57 Squamula Formicam tergi, telumque pedestrem,
58 Dum minor alata volitat cum conjuge conjux.
59 Mutilla impennis, sed cauda spicula vibrat.

VI. [Diptera]

60 (Diptera sub geminis alis se pondere librant.)

61 Os Oestro nullum est, caudaque timetur inermi.
62 Longa caput Tipula est, labiisque et praedita palpis.
63 Palpis Musca caret, retrahitque proboscida labris;
64 Qua Tabanus gaudet pariter, palpis sub acutis.
65 Os Culicis molli e pharetra sua spicula vibrat;
66 Rostrum Empis durum et longum sub pectore curvat;
67 Porrigit articuli de cardine noxia Conops;
68 Porrigit (at rectum et conicum) sitibundus Asilus;
69 Longum et Bombylius, qui sugit mella volando.
70 Unguibus Hippobosca valet: vibrat breve telum.

[VII. Aptera]

71 (Aptera se pedibus pennarum nescia jactant)

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.

All notes and queries are shown by default.

0 [Orders of Insects] 1 Explanatory

Title/Paratext] "[Prose translation by J. R. [...]" H.W. Starr/J.R. Hendrickson, 1966.

"[Prose translation by J. R. Hendrickson:]
Orders of Insects

I. Coleoptera.

    The Coleoptera boast wings covered with leather armour.

Those with club-shaped antennae.

    A saw on the feet and a split horn distinguish the Scarabaeus.
    A plate surrounds the stalk of the antenna of Dermestes, who timidly hides his head curved in below his body.
    Club-bearing Hister hides his head, drawing it back into his breast.
    The occiput of Attelabus narrows backward to a sharp point.
    Curculio stretches horns from a huge beak.
    Silpha stretches out slight margins of a moon-shaped shield and sheaths.
    An undeveloped top of the club and a small antenna are characteristic of Coccionella.

Those with thread-like antennae.

    Cassida hides herself completely under the rim of her shield.
    Chrysomela is bound by the in-turned margin of her leather armour.
    Humped Meloe has an inward-curving head and rounded thorax.
    Long Tenebrio thrusts forward his brow and the thin edges of his shield.
    A plate clothes the abdomen of Mordella.
    Staphylis flaunts short sheaths and a tail curving backward.

Those with bristle-covered antennae.

    Cerambyx shows strength in the thickness of his neck and in his antennae.
    Leptura has a smooth round breast and constricts her body.
    The covering of Cantharis is pliable, and there are nipple-like nodes on her sides.
    Elater when supine leaps back up by means of the point of the breast.
    Cicindela has an out-thrust jaw and a huge eye.
    The antennae of Buprestis are graceful and the neck retracted.
    Dytiscus is not motionless because of his rowing with his bristle-covered foot.
    With shortened breast Carabus gives a representation of a heart.
    Necydalis unfolds a bare wing from a short sheath.
    The sheath of Forficula is also short, but it covers the wing and the forceps on the tail.
    The body of Blatta is flattened, and her belly has two horns.
    Gryllus, voracious of tooth, leaps with down-turned wings.

II. Hemiptera.

    The beaked Hemiptera wear a shell divided into two equal parts. The female crawls on the ground at other times, but when mating she flies in the air.
    Preying Nepa is strong with beak and crab-like claws.
    Cicada leaps by means of the tip of her wings and beaked breast.
    Cimex is armed with in-curved stings and folds her wings in a cross.
    Notonecta also carries a cross and has oar-like feet.
    Aphis has horns on her tail and a beak; often she raises her wings upright.
    Chermes presses her wings down on her humped breast while she leaps.
    Sluggish Coccus has bristles on his tail; the male flies when mating.
    Slender Thrips has wings and a backward-curving tail.

III. Lepidoptera.

    The Lepidoptera boast scale of wing and coil of tongue.
    Papilio raises a club and scale-covered wings upright.
    Sphinx stretches forth antennae prism-shaped and swelling in the middle,
    But heavy Phalaena cone-shaped ones by night.

IV. Neuroptera.

    The Neuroptera have a bare net-like wing and hooks on the tail.
    Powerful in tooth and wings, long Libella cleaves the air.
    With bristle-bearing tail, Ephemera stands with wings erect.
    Tongueless Phryganea lets wrinkled wings droop,
    And so does two-toothed Hemerinus; but when he unfolds them, they become smooth.
    Panorpa threatens with both long beak and tail.
    With out-stretched neck Raphidia carries a single bristle.

V. Hymenoptera.

    The Hymenoptera have glassy wings and a dart on the tail; to the females weapons are given, but denied to the males.
    Cynips conceals a coiled weapon and threatens to bite.
    Tenthredo moves jaws and a bivalve saw,
    Ichneumon a three-fold shaft with slender abdomen.
    Apis drinks with in-curved tongue what she wins with the sword.
    Sphex spreads a smooth wing and hides a sword.
    A wrinkle on the wing and poison in the tail distinguish Vespa;
    A tiny scale on the back and a weapon [distinguish] Formica, which goes on foot except while the smaller husband flies with winged wife.
    Mutilla is wingless, but vibrates darts with her tail.

VI. Diptera.

    The Diptera balance themselves with a weight under their two wings.
    Oestrus has no mouth and is feared because of his tail, although it is unarmed.
    Tipula is long in the head and is furnished with lips and palpi.
    Musca lacks palpi and draws a proboscis back into lips;
    Tabanus likewise rejoices in a proboscis under sharp palpi.
    The mouth of Culex brandishes its darts from a soft sheath; Empis bends a long hard beak beneath her breast;
    Noxious Conops stretches out [a beak] from the hinge of a joint,
    And so does thirsty Asilus (but his is straight and cone-shaped),
    And Bombylius a long one, who sucks honey in flight.
    Hippobosca is strong by reason of talons; she brandishes a short weapon.

VII. Aptera.

    The Aptera, knowing nothing of wings, move about on foot."

The Complete Poems of Thomas Gray: English, Latin and Greek. Edited by Herbert W. Starr and J. R. Hendrickson. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1966, 182-184.

Contribute a note or query


[I. Coleoptera]

1 Alas lorica tectas Coleoptera jactant.

*[Antennis clavatis]

2 Serra pedum prodit Scarabaeum et fissile cornu.
3 Dermesti antennae circum ambit lamina caulem,
4 Qui caput incurvum timidus sub corpore celat.
5 In pectus retrahens caput abdit claviger Hister.
6 Occiput Attelabi in posticum vergit acumen.
7 Curculio ingenti protendit cornua rostro.
8 Silpha leves peltae atque elytrorum exporrigit oras.
9 Truncus apex clavae, atque antennula Coccionellae.

**[Antennis filiformibus]

10 Cassida sub clypei totam se margine condit.
11 Chrys'mela inflexa loricae stringitur ora.
12 Gibba caput Meloe incurvat, thorace rotundo.
13 Oblongus frontem et tenues clypei exerit oras
14 Tenebrio. Abdomen Mordellae lamina vestit.
15 Curta elytra ostentat Staphylis, caudamque recurvam.

***[Antennis setaceis]

16 Tubere cervicis valet, antennisque Cerambyx.
17 Pectore Leptura est tereti, corpusque coarctat.
18 Flexile Cantharidis tegmen, laterumque papillae.
19 Ast Elater resilit sterni mucrone supinus.
20 Maxilla exerta est, oculoque Cicindela grandi.
21 Bupresti antennae graciles, cervice retracta.
22 Nec Dytiscus iners setosa remige planta.
23 Effigiem cordis Carabus dat pectore trunco.
24 Necydalis curto ex elytro nudam explicat alam.
25 Curtum, at Forficulae tegit hanc, cum forcipe caudae.
26 Depressum Blattae corpus, venterque bicornis.
27 Dente vorax Gryllus deflexis saltitat alis.

II. [Hemiptera]

28 (Dimidiam rostrata gerunt Hemiptera crustam.
29 Foemina serpit humi interdum: volat aethere conjux.)

30 Rostro Nepa rapax pollet, chelisque. Cicada
31 Fastigio alarum et rostrato pectore saltat.
32 Tela Cimex inflexa gerit, cruce complicat alas.
33 Notonecta crucem quoque fert, remosque pedales;
34 Cornua Aphis caudae et rostrum: saepe erigit alas;
35 Deprimit has Chermes, dum saltat, pectore gibbo.
36 Coccus iners caudae setas, volitante marito;
37 Thrips alas angusta gerit, caudamque recurvam.

III. [Lepidoptera]

38 (Squamam alae, linguae spiram Lepidoptera jactant.)

39 Papilio clavam et squamosas subrigit alas.
40 Prismaticas Sphinx antennas, medioque tumentes;
41 At conicas gravis extendit sub nocte Phalaena.

IV. [Neuroptera]

42 (Rete alae nudum, atque hamos Neuroptera caudae.)

43 Dente alisque potens, secat aethera longa Libella.
44 Cauda setigera, erectis stat Ephemera pennis.
45 Phryganea elinguis rugosas deprimit alas;
46 Hemerinusque bidens: planas tamen explicat ille.
47 Et rostro longo et cauda Panorpa minatur.
48 Raphidia extento collo setam trahit unam.

V. [Hymenoptera]

49 (At vitreas alas, jaculumque Hymenoptera caudae,
50 Foemineo data tela gregi, maribusque negata.)

51 Telum abdit spirale Cynips, morsuque minatur.
52 Maxillas Tenthredo movet, serramque bivalvem;
53 Ichneumon gracili triplex abdomine telum.
54 Haurit Apis lingua incurva, quod vindicat ense.
55 Sphex alam expandit laevem, gladiumque recondit.
56 Alae ruga notat Vespam, caudaeque venenum;
57 Squamula Formicam tergi, telumque pedestrem,
58 Dum minor alata volitat cum conjuge conjux.
59 Mutilla impennis, sed cauda spicula vibrat.

VI. [Diptera]

60 (Diptera sub geminis alis se pondere librant.)

61 Os Oestro nullum est, caudaque timetur inermi.
62 Longa caput Tipula est, labiisque et praedita palpis.
63 Palpis Musca caret, retrahitque proboscida labris;
64 Qua Tabanus gaudet pariter, palpis sub acutis.
65 Os Culicis molli e pharetra sua spicula vibrat;
66 Rostrum Empis durum et longum sub pectore curvat;
67 Porrigit articuli de cardine noxia Conops;
68 Porrigit (at rectum et conicum) sitibundus Asilus;
69 Longum et Bombylius, qui sugit mella volando.
70 Unguibus Hippobosca valet: vibrat breve telum.

[VII. Aptera]

71 (Aptera se pedibus pennarum nescia jactant) 1 Textual

71.1-6 (Aptera ... jactant)] "[Additional Lines on Insects.] Palpos [...]" H.W. Starr/J.R. Hendrickson, 1966.

"[Additional Lines on Insects.]

Palpos ore duos, triplexque Lepisma flagellum
Pone gerit: cauda saltatque Podura bifurca.
Maxillis Termes, at lingua pollet acuta
Phthir laterumque lobis. Compresso abdomine Pulex
Inflexoque minax rostro salit.
[Prose translation by J. R. Hendrickson:]
"Additional Lines on Insects."

    Lepisma has two palpi on her mouth and a triple-branched whip-like appendage behind;
    Podura leaps by means of a forked tail.
    Termes derives his power from his jaws, Phthir from a sharp-pointed tongue and lobes on his sides.
    Pulex, distinguished by a compressed abdomen and menacing with inward-curving beak, leaps.

These lines, in Gray's hand. are recorded by W. P. Jones in Thomas Gray Scholar (p. 181) as found on a sheet in H. Paul's Queen Anne (Asnières, 1906). They are here published for the first time, from a photostat of the holograph MS. supplied by the Trustees of the Pierpont Morgan Library.
They are evidently a rough draft, only partially corrected and abandoned before completion."

The Complete Poems of Thomas Gray: English, Latin and Greek. Edited by Herbert W. Starr and J. R. Hendrickson. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1966, 185.

Contribute a note or query

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.

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






Contractions, italics and initial capitalization have been largely eliminated, except where of real import. Initial letters of sentences have been capitalized, all accents have been removed. The editor would like to express his gratitude to library staff at Pembroke College, Cambridge, at the British Library, and at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, for their invaluable assistance.