Book Report: The Deserted Village and Other Poems by Oliver Goldsmith (1894?)

Book coverAfter reading a century-old copy of The Courtship of Miles Standish and Elizabeth, I quickly picked up another one of these old, old elementary school (!) textbooks. This one bears the copyright date of 1894 but is likely newer. Although it has an owner’s name penciled in, it’s less legible and would likely yield a less interesting account of the previous owner.

So: Oliver Goldsmith is most known for The Vicar of of Wakefield, but these poems are what really put him on the literary map right about the time of the British Transcontinental Civil War Revolutionary War (we won, we call it what we want).

“The Deserted Village” is a response to the industrial revolution and how the rural areas were depopulating as people moved to the cities for work. Wow, this was a thing before the 20th century? Of course it was; but by not reading these things in school any more, we don’t need that perspective about how some things, themes, and sentiments or concerns precede the solutions that salesmen and politicians would offer us today for our completely novel troubles. “The Traveller” is a, well, travelogue of someone visiting the continent and comparing the different places and their foreigners to England (which is clearly the best). A couple of shorter poems appear to fill out the thin (96 page) volume.

These poems and The Vicar of Wakefield represent the bulk of Goldsmith’s work (although he had a couple plays put on and a couple other novels). But he was lauded in his time. We have forgotten so many of the people who were big literary stars in their time.

The poems are easy to read. Long lines and end rhymes, attention to rhythm. Meant to be read aloud, perhaps to friends, but that’s not how the party people do it these days.

So, again, suddenly I am enjoying these century-old poem collections, so don’t be surprised to see me pick up another in the future. So many of the ones I have, though, are Longfellow, so I will try to pace them out.

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