Thomas
Gray
Archive

"Song II"

"Song II"


1 Thyrsis, when we parted, swore
2 Ere the spring he would return.
3 Ah, what means yon violet flower,
4 And the buds that deck the thorn?
5 'Twas the lark that upward sprung!
6 'Twas the nightingale that sung!

7 Idle notes, untimely green,
8 Why such unavailing haste?
9 Western gales and skies serene
10 Prove not always winter past.
11 Cease my doubts, my fears to move;
12 Spare the honour of my love.

Expanding the poem lines (+) shows the results of a computationally facilitated analysis of the text. These results should be considered as a basis for deeper interpretative enquiry such as can be found in the notes and queries.

0 "Song II"

Metrical notation:  +-|+-|+-|+/ +-|+-|+-|+/ +-|+-|+-|+/ +-|+-|+-|+/ +-|+-|+-|+/ +-|+-|+-|+/
Metrical foot type:  trochaic (+-)
Metrical foot number:  tetrameter (4 feet) (catalectic)
Rhyme scheme:  ababcc
Syllable pattern:  7.7.7.7.7.7
Stanza:  sestet (6 lines)

Contribute a correction, note or query


1 Thyrsis, when we parted, swore    
Rhyme:  ababcc   |   Rhyme word:  swore   |   Rhyme sound:  /ɔː/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  +-|+-|+-|+/   |   Syllables:  7
Figure:  alliteration (phonological): when/we /w/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): Thyrsis/swore /s/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): when/we /w/

Contribute a correction, note or query

2 Ere the spring he would return.    
Rhyme:  ababcc   |   Rhyme word:  return   |   Rhyme sound:  /ɜːn/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  +-|+-|+-|+/   |   Syllables:  7
Figure:  assonance (phonological): spring/return /ɪ/

Contribute a correction, note or query

3 Ah, what means yon violet flower,    
Rhyme:  ababcc   |   Rhyme word:  flower   |   Rhyme sound:  /aʊə/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  +-|+-|+-|+/   |   Syllables:  7
Figure:  assonance (phonological): what/yon /ɒ/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): means/yon /n/
Figure:  ecphonesis (pragmatic): Ah...

Contribute a correction, note or query

4 And the buds that deck the thorn?    
Rhyme:  ababcc   |   Rhyme word:  thorn   |   Rhyme sound:  /ɔːn/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  +-|+-|+-|+/   |   Syllables:  7
Figure:  assonance (phonological): And/that /æ/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): buds/deck /d/

Contribute a correction, note or query

5 'Twas the lark that upward sprung!    
Rhyme:  ababcc   |   Rhyme word:  sprung   |   Rhyme sound:  /ʌŋ/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  +-|+-|+-|+/   |   Syllables:  7
Figure:  assonance (phonological): upward/sprung /ʌ/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): 'Twas/that /t/
Figure:  anaphora (morphological): 'Twas the
Figure:  aphaeresis (morphological): 'Twas

Contribute a correction, note or query

6 'Twas the nightingale that sung!    
Rhyme:  ababcc   |   Rhyme word:  sung   |   Rhyme sound:  /ʌŋ/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  +-|+-|+-|+/   |   Syllables:  7
Figure:  consonance (phonological): 'Twas/nightingale/that /t/
Figure:  anaphora (morphological): 'Twas the
Figure:  aphaeresis (morphological): 'Twas

Contribute a correction, note or query


7 Idle notes, untimely green,    
Rhyme:  ababcc   |   Rhyme word:  green   |   Rhyme sound:  /iːn/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  +-|+-|+-|+/   |   Syllables:  7
Figure:  assonance (phonological): Idle/untimely /aɪ/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): notes/untimely/green /n/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): notes/untimely /t/

Contribute a correction, note or query

8 Why such unavailing haste?    
Rhyme:  ababcc   |   Rhyme word:  haste   |   Rhyme sound:  /eɪst/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  +-|+-|+-|+/   |   Syllables:  7
Figure:  assonance (phonological): such/unavailing /ʌ/
Figure:  assonance (phonological): unavailing/haste /eɪ/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): such/haste /s/

Contribute a correction, note or query

9 Western gales and skies serene    
Rhyme:  ababcc   |   Rhyme word:  serene   |   Rhyme sound:  /iːn/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  +-|+-|+-|+/   |   Syllables:  7
Figure:  alliteration (phonological): skies/serene /s/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): Western/skies/serene /s/

Contribute a correction, note or query

10 Prove not always winter past.    
Rhyme:  ababcc   |   Rhyme word:  past   |   Rhyme sound:  /ɑːst/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  +-|+-|+-|+/   |   Syllables:  7
Figure:  alliteration (phonological): Prove/past /p/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): Prove/past /p/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): not/winter /n/

Contribute a correction, note or query

11 Cease my doubts, my fears to move;    
Rhyme:  ababcc   |   Rhyme word:  move   |   Rhyme sound:  /uːv/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  +-|+-|+-|+/   |   Syllables:  7
Figure:  alliteration (phonological): my/my/move /m/
Figure:  assonance (phonological): my/my /aɪ/
Figure:  assonance (phonological): to/move /uː/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): my/my/move /m/
Figure:  diacope (morphological): my/my

Contribute a correction, note or query

12 Spare the honour of my love.    
Rhyme:  ababcc   |   Rhyme word:  love   |   Rhyme sound:  /ʌv/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  +-|+-|+-|+/   |   Syllables:  7
Figure:  assonance (phonological): honour/of /ɒ/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): of/love /v/

Contribute a correction, note or query


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 13 textual and 2 explanatory notes/queries.

All notes and queries are shown by default.

0 "Song II" 1 Explanatory, 1 Textual

Title/Paratext] "In a brief memoir of [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"In a brief memoir of Gray by Horace Walpole, prefixed to Mitford's "Correspondence of Gray and Mason," Walpole says;—"In October, 1761, he made words for an old tune of Geminiani, at the request of Miss Speed. It begins—

'Thyrsis, when we parted, swore.'
Two stanzas—the thought adapted from the French."
    In a long note to the "Long Story," in the edition of Gray's "Poetical Works," published by Sharpe, 1826, after referring to the fact that his "gallantry had no deeper root than the complaisance of friendship," the anonymous editor proceeds to say:—"Another erroneous surmise of the same nature [i.e., that he was in love with Miss Speed] might be formed on hearing (what nevertheless is true) that the beautiful rondeau, which appears in the later editions of his works, was inspired by the 'wish to please' this lady. The fact is, however, that it was produced (and probably about this time) on a request she made to the poet one day, when he was in company with Mr. Walpole, that she might possess something from his pen on the subject of love. . . . It was in the year 1780 that Miss Speed (then Countess de Viry) enabled the lovers of poetry to see in print the 'Rondeau,' and another small amatory poem of Gray's, called 'Thyrsis,' by presenting them to the Rev. Mr. Leman, of Suffolk, while on a visit at her castle in Savoy. She died there in 1783."
    The following references to Miss Speed in Gray's "Letters" are interesting. In June, 1760, writing to Wharton, he says:—"I remain . . . still in town, though for these three weeks I have been going into Oxfordshire with Madam Speed . . . She has got at least £30,000 with a house in town, plate, jewels, china and old japan infinite [left by Lady Cobham]." On Oct. 21, 1760:—"You astonish me in wondering that my Lady Cobham left me nothing. For my part, I wondered to find that she had given me £20 for a ring, as much as she gave to several of her nieces. The world said before her death that Miss Speed and I had shut ourselves up with her in order to make her will, and that afterwards we were to be married" In Jan., 1761:—"My old friend Miss Speed has done what the world would call a very foolish thing. She has married the Baron de la Peyriere, son to the Sardinian Minister, the Comte de Viry. The Castle of Viry is in Savoy, a few miles from Geneva, commanding a fine view of the Lake.""

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, 268-269.

Title/Paratext] "It would seem that there [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"It would seem that there were two or three manuscript copies of this Song. It was published in Horace Walpole's "Works," in his Letters to the Countess of Ailesbury, and that copy was followed by Mitford, and is identical with the version in Mr. Gosse's edition which he incorrectly describes as "printed from a copy by Stonehewer at Pembroke College." In the "Gentleman's Magazine" for Oct. 1799, it is quoted in a letter in which it is stated that it was first published in Walpole's "Works.""

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, 269.

Contribute a note or query


1 Thyrsis, when we parted, swore 1 Explanatory, 1 Textual

1.1 Thyrsis,] "Thyrsis is the name of [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Thyrsis is the name of a shepherd in Theocritus and Virgil, and used in Milton's "l'Allegro," 83, for a shepherd or rustic, and hence, in the pastoral and amatory poetry of the eighteenth century, it is used to designate a lover."

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, 269.

1.2-4 when ... parted,] "In Stephen Jones' edition, in [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"In Stephen Jones' edition, in which he states that this song then appears for the first time among Gray's poems, there are the following variations from the usual text:— When he left me."

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, 269.

Contribute a note or query

2 Ere the spring he would return. 1 Textual

2.1 Ere] "In. [Stephen Jones' edition]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"In. [Stephen Jones' edition]"

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, 269.

Contribute a note or query

3 Ah, what means yon violet flower, 1 Textual

3.4-6 yon ... flower,] "The opening flower. [Stephen Jones' [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"The opening flower. [Stephen Jones' edition]"

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, 269.

Contribute a note or query

4 And the buds that deck the thorn?
5 'Twas the lark that upward sprung! 1 Textual

5.1 - 6.5 'Twas ... sung!] "Line 5 comes after line [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Line 5 comes after line 6. [Stephen Jones' edition]"

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, 270.

Contribute a note or query

6 'Twas the nightingale that sung! 1 Textual

5.1 - 6.5 'Twas ... sung!] "Line 5 comes after line [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Line 5 comes after line 6. [Stephen Jones' edition]"

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, 270.

Contribute a note or query


7 Idle notes, untimely green, 1 Textual

7.4 green,] "There is also a copy [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"There is also a copy in the Mitford MSS., which has the following variations in the second verse:— Bloom."

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, 270.

Contribute a note or query

8 Why such unavailing haste? 1 Textual

8.2 such] "[this.] [Stephen Jones' edition]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"[this.] [Stephen Jones' edition]"

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, 270.

Contribute a note or query

9 Western gales and skies serene 3 Textual

9.1 Western] "Gentle. [Stephen Jones' edition]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Gentle. [Stephen Jones' edition]"

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, 270.

9.1 Western] "Warmer. [Mitford MSS.]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Warmer. [Mitford MSS.]"

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, 270.

9.4 skies] "sky. [Stephen Jones' edition]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"sky. [Stephen Jones' edition]"

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, 270.

Contribute a note or query

10 Prove not always winter past. 2 Textual

10.1 Prove] "[Speak.] [Stephen Jones' edition]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"[Speak.] [Stephen Jones' edition]"

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, 270.

10.1-5 Prove ... past.] "Cannot prove that winter's past. [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Cannot prove that winter's past. [Mitford MSS.]"

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, 270.

Contribute a note or query

11 Cease my doubts, my fears to move;
12 Spare the honour of my love. 1 Textual

12.1-6 Spare ... love.] "Dare not to reproach my [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Dare not to reproach my love. [Mitford MSS.]"

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, 270.

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.