Thomas Gray by John Giles Eccardt, (1747-1748)

Time to get out of the house. We’re allowed out for up to an hour a day, which is just as well as we’d lose the plot otherwise, as would the dog.

Followers on Instagram know that I tend to take a LOT of photos of the cemetery down the road. Well, you focus on what’s around you, don’t you? So why not combine the dog walk, insta-obsession and poetry echoes? Et Voilà!

Thomas Gray’s reputation relies on only THIRTEEN poems published during his lifetime! Astonishing. And this is perhaps his most celebrated. Justly so – it’s almost Shakespearean in its influence, such that you’ll recognise all kinds of phrases and descriptions which have become idioms or book titles. But above all, it’s a wonderful if melancholic meditation on the passing of time and generations.

In our celebrity-gossip and selfie-obsessed age, what could be more important than Gray’s reminder of the value of invisible faithfulness and participation in the local? Perfect evidence for why our ancestors valued the memento mori. But it is no dirge, no wallow. Because ultimately, it brims over with grounded hope.

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