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A good case can be made that the speaker’s subject is himself. It is only in the thirteenth line that the subject (“him that cannot hear”) is mentioned, but for the rest of the poem the speaker concentrates on his own responses and makes no effort to praise the dead friend. The characteristic of lines 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, and 12 is that objects and modifiers are not placed in the order that readers today are accustomed to seeing. Thus, line 6, “A different object do these eyes require,” is at first difficult, until it is made into more modern syntax: “These eyes do require a different object.” Similar rearrangements may be carried out with the other lines. Students may ask why the poet has written such lines. The obvious answer, of course, is that Gray assumed that his audience had been schooled in Latin, and that the use of Latinate syntax in English was thought to elevate English to the level of Latin.
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