Thomas Gray is the greatest poet between Milton and Wordsworth. He is called the poetical classic of the 18th century. It is he who has offered some immortal poems to the literature of his nation. 'An Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard' is the best example of it.
Gray is a great and matchless elegiac poet in the annals of English poetry. He indulged himself in the luxury of tears. Melancholy is the distinguishing feature of his poems. His poetry is full of sorrow, suffering, disease and death. As a true mourner Gray mourns the tragic fate of mankind. He always deals with the mortality and meaninglessness of human life. His 'ELEGY...' is a sincere song of mourning. Thus Gray is par excellence a poet of death and mourning.
Thomas Gray is transitional poet. He showed his merit between the Neo-Classical and Romantic Age. Thus his position as a classic and as a precursor of Romanticism is established. It is said that he began his career as Classicist but ended as a Romantic poet.
As a precursor of English Romantic movement Gray had no sympathy for the conventional verse. He tried to break through the bounds of the prevailing patterns of poetry. He stood strongly against the bondage of rules, conventions and customs. He sought and found inspiration in the literature of the past. He had love for nature, medievalism, Hellenism and melancholy. He had sympathy for the weak and the poor. These all are the prominent characteristics of the Romantic poetry.
As a great poet Gray showed his metrical excellence but he never sacrificed sense to sound. He was in the habit of using antithesis, personification, epigrams, circumlocutions, allegories and compound words. His poetry is lyrical in form and refined in style. There is musical virtuosity in his poetry. He avoided the predominant couplet and preferred the stanza.
Thus Gray is great, matchless and immortal poet. He wrote poetry with a great degree of ease and comfort. He will be remembered for ever for his simplicity, tenderness, human touch and universal feelings. In his poems he attained the sublimity of
and the harmony of Pope. Thus he holds a singular position in the history of
English poetry. Milton