Course Hero. "The Deserted Village Study Guide." Course Hero. 15 Nov. 2019. Web. 2 Feb. 2023. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Deserted-Village/>.
Course Hero. (2019, November 15). The Deserted Village Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Deserted-Village/
(Course Hero, 2019)
Course Hero. "The Deserted Village Study Guide." November 15, 2019. Accessed February 2, 2023. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Deserted-Village/.
Course Hero, "The Deserted Village Study Guide," November 15, 2019, accessed February 2, 2023, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Deserted-Village/.
Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain.
This, the opening line of the poem, exemplifies the speaker's sentimentality. The village he describes in the following lines is faultless, pure, and unspoiled.
Where health and plenty cheered the laboring swain.
This line is an example of the speaker's rose-colored view of rural life. He presents images of healthy young men ("swains") who long for nothing. Even though farming and small-town life is not all innocence and prosperity, portraying it as such drives home the speaker's point.
But all these charms are fled.
An image of the "tyrant's hand" creeps into the picturesque village scene. The villagers have no choice but to leave their homes, taking their morality and "charms" with them.
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.
The speaker sees a direct link between industrialization—machines, factories, and corporations—and human suffering and death.
The rich man's joys increase, the poor's decay.
The speaker directly links the actions of the wealthy—through unmentioned Enclosure Acts and labor exploitation—with the decreased living quality of the poor.
The man of wealth and pride / Takes up a space that many poor supplied.
This line explains the speaker's views on the Enclosure Acts, which he believed pushed the hardworking poor off their land to the benefit of the wealthy.
The country blooms—a garden, and a grave.
While the rich use excess land to expand their recreational space, such as for a garden, it pushes the starving poor into their graves and thrives off their death.
Here while the courtier glitters in brocade, / There the pale artist plies the sickly trade.
In the city everyone takes advantage of each other to line their own pockets. The speaker describes two unsavory characters on the street hustling to make money off their fellow man.
Where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey, / And savage men, more murderous still than they.
The speaker describes the terrifying city where innocent villagers walk into certain exploitation or death. The city provides the perfect foil for the speaker's sentimentality. While the village is an image of unflawed beauty, the city is irredeemably evil.
I see the rural virtues leave the land.
As the poor are pushed from their land, they take their "rural virtues," or morality, with them. The speaker suggests that villagers are purely good and city dwellers are purely corrupt. As commercialism spreads across England, it stifles morality.