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The loss was compounded a few days later by news that his friend since childhood The events dampened the mood that Christmas, and Antrobus's death was ever fresh in the minds of the Gray family.As a side effect, the events caused Gray to spend much of his time contemplating his own mortality.Gray dismisses its positives as merely being that he was able to complete the poem, which was probably influenced by his experience of the churchyard at Stoke Poges, where he attended the Sunday service and was able to visit the grave of Antrobus.The version that was later published and reprinted was a 32-stanza version with the "Epitaph" conclusion.In a 20 February letter to Walpole, Gray thanked him for intervening and helping to get a quality version of the poem published before Owen.
With spring nearing, Gray questioned if his own life would enter into a sort of rebirth cycle or, should he die, if there would be anyone to remember him.
In 1749, several events occurred that caused Gray stress.
On 7 November, Mary Antrobus, Gray's aunt, died; her death devastated his family.
Claimed as "probably still today the best-known and best-loved poem in English", the Elegy quickly became popular.
It was printed many times and in a variety of formats, translated into many languages, and praised by critics even after Gray's other poetry had fallen out of favour.
It is the Approbation which makes it unnecessary for me to make any Apology but to the Author: As he cannot but feel some Satisfaction in having pleas'd so many Readers already, I flatter myself he will forgive my communicating that Pleasure to many more." The pamphlet contained woodblock illustrations and was printed without attribution to Gray, at his request.