Gray matter


Sir, – I read with enjoyment the piece by Frank McNally on the poet Thomas Gray and his famous Elegy (An Irishman’s Diary, July 30th).

It took me back to my schooldays in the Belfast Institution many decades ago. In English class we had been asked to learn by heart some verses from the Elegy, including the one that contains the line “The short and simple annals of the poor”. A classmate, asked to say his piece, inadvertently rendered the line as “The short and sinful annals of the poor”. He was applauded by the teacher, Joe Cowan, who deemed it an improvement on the original. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 16.