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Poet Thomas Gray: "Urge the Flying Ball."

Salience Noteworthy
Tags College, Famous
Location US South

"What idle progeny succeed

To chase the rolling circle's speed,

Or urge the flying ball?"

Thomas Gray, "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College," lines 28-30. Accessed 12/29/2007 at http://www.thomasgray.org. "Rolling circle" had been drafted as "hoop," and thus does not connote ballplay. Cricket writers have seen "flying ball" as a cricket reference, but a Gray scholar cites "Bentley's Print" as a basis for concluding that Gray was referring to trap ball in this line. Steel and Lyttelton note that this poem was first published in 1747. Note: is it fair to assume that Gray is evoking student play at Eton in this ode? Do modern scholars agree with the 1747 publication date?

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