Thomas Gray Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

Can I have some help regarding two poems by Thomas Gray, which are "Hymn to Adversity" and "Ode on the Spring"?

Expert Answers info

bmadnick eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write1,334 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

"Ode to the Spring" was originally written as a letter to his friend, Richard West. The letter was returned to Gray unopened, and he found out West had died. Ironically, the subject of the letter had been how short life is, stemming from the fact that Gray was the only survivor of twelve children.

The poem itself tells about the poet watching insects while sitting under a tree. The insects begin to talk to the poet, saying he's wasting his life because he has no one and doesn't add any beauty to life. The theme of the poem deals with human mortality, that we are here for a short time, and we should contribute something while we're here.

The second poem, "Hymn to Adversity" deals with the quality of our lives while we are here. The poet says everyone has problems in life, and people are joined together by the problems of life. Our problems can teach us many things, including forgiveness, generosity, and love. Its theme is that humans should not complain about what they don't have. Rather, they should make something of the things they do have. In the poem, Gray personifies Adversity, which is an intelligent woman.

For more information, go to the site below.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial