Oliver Goldsmith
"Sweet Arburn! Lovliest Village of The Plain"



1770, "The Deserted Village"

Heroic Couplet, (iambic parameter, lines rhyme by pairs - 1 & 2 rhyme, 3 &4, etc.)

Elegy of dead town-ghost town "Sweet Auburn"

Influence of Industrial Revolution and Enclosure Acts.  England's countryside was undergoing enclosure at this time.  In earlier eras, the rich who held title to the land needed peasants to tend it.  There were actually laws to keep people from leaving.  With the Industrial Revolution, it became possible to produce vast amounts of things in one place & ship it out.  One of the affected areas was textiles - clothes could be produced & shipped in bulk.   So where does the wool to make these clothes come from?  The rich discovered that they could make more profits from their estates if they kicked out the people, built fences (enclosed the land), and raised sheep.  People whose ancesters had lived in an area for centuries suddenly found themselves jobless & homeless.  Whole villages were emptied. Territory was being converted to property. People wanted separation- private space. Private property became a symbol of rank.

Since only property owners were allowed to vote, the poor had no real remedy for their displacement. Some left the country (America was one destination); others move to cities.  England turned from a land of farmers to a land of factory workers & shopkeepers.  The slums of London, Birmingham, & Manchester replaced the sweet Auburns.

Pastoral - praises country/rural life, simple life
This is another "farewell to a place" poem (Like Lanyer's "Description of Cooke-ham")
 
 

# 1-30  He opens with a summary of what was in the village.  He also looks at a picnic.  Country people had had leisure time - could take time off for picnics/play. Now are in cities- working in factories.

# 37-39 tyrant's hand = the rich who force out their tenants.  Common property was becoming private property.

# 51-52 "wealth accumulates, and men decay"

# 55-56  Princes can be replaced but common people canít. Once theyíve lost their freedom/independence, it canít be replaced.
 

# 85-100  He wanted to go back theyíre to retire and die, but he wonít be able to because the village is gone.

#76- he is walking around and everyone is gone (out in the factory working)
    he next examines the school

# 113, what he remembers what life was like before enclosure.

# 121, everything is gone

# 137 Will now examine the extinct institutions of the village & the buildings that held them.

# 140  He starts with the pastor's home.  He remembers the village preacher, who was humble. One of the wealthiest villagers despite the fact that even he didnít make much. Helped out unemployed. Was a counsellor.  Not judgmental.  Excellent preacher-converted many unbelievers. "fools, who came to scoff, remained to pray."

# 193  The school.  This is a "noisy mansion" because of the children who were there.

Examines schoolhouse and master. The teacher was strict but kind, very intelligent and could read, write, and "cipher" math.  He could also survey land. Just be sure to laugh at his jokes.  Had debates with the minister.  They were the 2 most educated people in the village, & sought intellectual stimulation from each other.

#220- the pub.  You wanna go where everyone knows your name.
"village statesmen talked"  here's where the know-it-alls tell it all.
old ale, older news.  They told stale stories as they drank stale ale.
12 good rules & royal game of goose - see the note

#275  One man takes up an area that supported many poor.

# 286-302  Compares the country to a young woman.  When it was young & beautiful, it didn't need adornment.  Now in its decay, all the adornment doesn't mask the corruption.
They have turned country into garden and grave.

# 325-225  Examines the effects of enclosure on the people who left.  A woman who might have made a good life back home is destitute & has lost her virtue (has had sex).

# 341 Many have left England & gone to Georgia (Hey, isn't that where Auburn is?).