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Gray's Monument, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire | by Martin Beek
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Gray's Monument, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

The monument to Gray at Stoke Poges, site of Gray's Elegy.It is believed that Gray wrote his masterpiece, the Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, in the graveyard of the church in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire in 1750. The poem was a literary sensation when published by Robert Dodsley in February 1751 and has made a lasting contribution to English literature. Its reflective, calm and stoic tone was greatly admired, and it was pirated, imitated, quoted and translated into Latin and Greek. It is still one of the most popular and most frequently quoted poems in the English language. Before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, British General James Wolfe is said to have recited it to his officers, adding: "Gentlemen, I would rather have written that poem than take Quebec tomorrow". The poem's famous depiction of an "ivy-mantled tow'r" could be a reference to the early-mediaeval St. Laurence's Church in Upton, Slough.

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Taken on June 7, 2009