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“From Garden to Grave:” An Ecological Reading of Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates and men decay (Goldsmith, DV, 51-52) “I would describe poetry as ecology in the community of words” (Leopold in Rasula, 7)

Abstract Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village, as the title suggests, is a loaded poem from an ecological perspective. Thematically, the poem is divided into two major modes: preDesertified and post-Desertified. The pre-Desertified mode presents “Auburn,” an imaginary locus, in an eco-friendly light—a village where humans, demographically children, youths, old and the non-human factors, from rocks through fields to animals-are said to be interdependent. But the post-Desertified mode presents “Auburn” a desolate locus devoid of an ecological balance; because the rich are after wealth and profit at the cost of degrading the ecological health of the environment. The objective of the present study is to analyze the contents of the poem for highlighting its ecological meanings. The study can be used as a resource for sensitizing people to the issues of environmental degradation, natural resource management, community participation, conservation of biodiversity, and pollution. The analyses conducted in this paper contextualize the contents of the poem for further readings from other ecological perspectives to develop curriculums for use and application in academic and environmental circles. The concept of “garden” has not only an empirical/historical value in the material cultures of the world but also its a-historical significance in the spiritual sources. 1 From the opposite end, the word “grave” has its associations with death, horror, terror, silence and wilderness, an apt and potent symbol for poeticizing an ecological disaster. Thus the two images are universal in their application to social happiness and harmony in a humanized natural environment (garden) and to desolation and disintegration in a graveyard. The image of “a garden and a grave” occurs in Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village (302), prompting the ecological imagination to describe environmental degradation as a process from “garden to grave.” At this juncture, Harrison’s commentary on Wordsworth’s poetic “vagrancy” has its thematic relevance for sharing with the reader. In this regard, Harrison says:

While the agrarian idyll distances the spectator or reader from the place of poverty, substituting for actual social conditions a composite image of rural England as a place of social harmony, fulfilling labor and blissful simplicity, it simultaneously confers an ontological value upon the idealized inhabitants of that indigenous Eden. More, broadly, the agrarian idyll serves as one of the primary topoi of the broader movement of romantic anti-capitalsim sweeping Europe in the early nineteenth century (49).

In the above passage, however, the expression “indigenous Eden” evokes a localized picture, which seems to reduce the universal applicability of the poetic vision created by the Romantics. Goldsmith’s text is charged with many symbolic layers of meaning if placed in the context of eco-criticism, which has no geographical boundary. Eco-criticism is emerging as a new field of discipline to strengthen the interface between nature/environment and literature/imagination. Eco-critics argue that literature provides us with a rich ground for exploring images, symbols, settings, and characters in such way as to interpret them for use in ecological and environmental contexts. The prefix “Eco” appears before poets, poetry and criticism to suggest the idea that ecology and poetical art are interlinked in human cultures. Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village, which is self-apparent in alerting us to ecological consciousness, is evocative of the whole earth in the process of degrading, from environmental through water to air and sound pollution. This study is an attempt to explore the verbal resources of the poem for analysis and interpretation from an ecological perspective. The study, I think, will play a productive role in sensitizing the reader to the environmental issues discussed and debated at global level today. The study will provide a theoretical framework for studying literature, both at academic and non-academic level, to broaden and deepen human approach to such issues as social integration, desertification, soil degradation, deforestation, sustainable development, pollution and health hazards. Barring the technicalities connected with the term “desertification,” 2 the immediate picture that DV evokes is that of a wasteland devoid of biodiversity found in a green land. The poem focuses on Auburn, an imaginary village, connoting nature and natural beauty compared with city, which

evokes machines and hundreds of mechanical applications causing pollution at many levels of meaning. Through Goldsmith’s poem, we can conceptualize two levels of experience: the preDesertified Mode and the post-Desertified Mode. The pre-Desertified Mode is found as past, as if not renewable, irrecoverable, and irreparable. The pre-DM is associated with an integrated natural resource management in Auburn with the result that the human and the non-human environments worked in conjunction without endangering each other’s survival. The post-DM is in the present, evoking a process of desolation and disintegration caused by a break in the integrated relationship between nature and its human agents. From a symbolic perspective, Goldsmith’s “Auburn” epitomizes the concerns and interventions of today’s ecologists and environmentalists as explained, analyzed and interpreted below. . In the beginning, the poet creates a nostalgic environment for the reader to conceptualize the pleasures and beauties associated with Auburn in its pre-Desertified Mode before turning to the picture of desolation and degradation in the post-Desertified Mode. The opening lines are: Auburn, loveliest village of the plain, Where health and plenty cheered the labouring swain, Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid, And parting summer's lingering blooms delayed: Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease, Seats of my youth, when every sport could please, How often have I loitered o'er thy green. (DV, 1-7)3

The whole passage depicts an ecological location where humans and non-human nature interacted with each other for self-preservation. The passage depicts Auburn as past experience when the human agents managed their natural resource in such a way as to remain economically strong enough to keep them physically and psychologically healthy. Spaces where the villagers spent their youth were intact to keep them psychologically glued to their environment. The net outcome was an aesthetic kind of pleasure coupled with innocence and simplicity, free of

complexities leading to stress, anxieties, nervous tensions and pressures in the industrialized/post/Desertified Mode. The image of spring, evoking flowers, green trees and flowers, further strengthens the artistic texture of the passage, which has its intrinsic relationship with what today’s environmentalists work for to achieve. Goldsmith singles our certain characters-- the village churchman, the village school teacher, the farmer, the woodman, the blacksmith, and the barber as representatives of communal participation, which is the soul of social ecology, a network of social relationships and interventions for maintaining the communal health of the system in a given environment. The relationship between nature and humans in the poem is said to be the result of productive interactions among humans at social level. In this regard, the characters whose role was positive and constructive, which was responsible for maintaining the social health based upon sympathy, kindness, charity and compassion. The picture of the churchman is drawn as Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride, And even his failings leaned to virtue's side; But in his duty prompt at every call, He watched and wept, he prayed and felt, for all. And, as a bird each fond endearment tries To tempt its new-fledged offspring to the skies, He tried each art, reproved each dull delay, Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way ( 163-170).

The passage evokes the picture of a religious leader whose function was to help the wretched with no vested interests. He was dutiful and ever ready to “pray for all” with zero discrimination. With the help of avian imagery, which is again ecological in its effect, the poet concretizes the churchman’s sense of fellowship. What the poet wants to prompt us for is to learn companionship and mentorship from birds which raise their nestlings and groom them for flight in the sky. Similarly, the role of a senior person is to guide his/her juniors and prepare them for challenges in life. Today “business” is the topmost priority and all networking and

organizational tactics revolve around money. Human environment is based upon relationships which work well through verbal communication backed by the non-verbal one. The communication style of the churchman as imaged in the poem sensitizes us to the method we should adopt while dealing with others, especially those who are in distress or in need of some relief, stress management, to be technical . The relationship between the churchman and villagers is communal and participatory in nature, which provides a base for coordination and collaboration. Goldsmith says:

His ready smile a parent's warmth expressed, Their welfare pleased him and their cares distressed; To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given, But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven. As some tall cliff, that lifts its awful form, Swells from the vale and midway leaves the storm, Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread, Eternal sunshine settles on its head. (185-192)

Though the focus is on the spiritual dimension, the imagery used is solar, alpine and meteorological in nature. The peak of a mountain shining after being darkened by a stormy weather, natural processes which sustain the environment, is evocative of a spiritually exhilarating experience. Apart from the churchman, we are also informed about a school teacher in the poem. The school teacher is presented as a multi-tasked worker, facilitating real estate activities, integrated into the very fabric of the society. He uses his geometrical skills for measuring lands as part of his social obligation. Goldsmith says:

The village all declared how much he knew; 'Twas certain he could write and cipher too; Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage, And even the story ran that he could gauge. (207-210)

The following lines give us the picture of a social scene without its skilled resources: the farmer whose function is to disseminate agricultural information is no longer found; the barber is not present to provide verbal entertainment; the woodman is not there with his poeticized story to share with others; and the smith is no more there to release his physical tension by participating in his host’s words.

The poet says:

No more the farmer's news, the barber's tale, No more the woodman's ballad shall prevail; No more the smith his dusky brow shall clear, Relax his ponderous strength, and lean to hear; The host himself no longer shall be found Careful to see the mantling bliss go round; (244-249)

What the poet stresses in the above passage is that the social ecology of his idealized space is no more there to keep its health strong and productive. In a way, Goldsmith’s nostalgic narrative prefigures what was posed later in 1973: We are bewildered and disturbed by the radical changes that seem rapidly destroying the countryside: not only the rate at which towns and factories and motorways are eating up the land, but the way in which farmers are forcing husbandry into an industrial straightjacket. Ecoeconomics and environment seem to be fighting each other to death. We are sorry too about the collapse of rural society. We regret the loss of hedges and hayricks, the rape of villages, and all the familiar features of country life we read about or used to know (emphasis mine13). Victor Bonham-Carter. Land and Environment: the Survival of the English Countryside (New Jeresy: Associated University Presses, 1973).

Shimer “Englandizes and Irelandizes” ” Goldsmith’s poetic vision, which I think, does not do justice to its contextual applicability.4 Because, today, environmental degradation is not a local/ Irish but a universal problem to be addressed for the survival of organic life including humans irrespective of colour, creed and/or culture. Goldsmith not only humanizes “nature,” which motivates us for “biophilia,” but also “naturalizes” “humans,” which provides us with a strong clue to interpret the poem in terms of productive interaction. The passage quoted below gives us a picture of the residents of “Auburn” interacting with nature for survival, not to exploit it for overabundance of luxury and

extravagance—but all that wholesome interactive environment is no longer there.

The poet

says: Time there was, ere England's griefs began, When every rood of ground maintain'd its man; For him light Labour spread her wholesome store, Just gave what life required, but gave no more: His best companions, Innocence and Health; And his best riches, ignorance of wealth. But times are alter'd; Trade's unfeeling train Usurp the land, and dispossess the swain; Along the lawn, where scatter'd hamlets rose, Unwieldy wealth and cumbrous pomp repose; And every want to luxury allied, (57-67)

Goldsmith’s ecological narrative has become more relevant today than it was written to ecopoeticize the local environment under the then industrial forces. The concept of sustainable development, especially in rural areas, loses its practical value without participation energized by communal wellbeing at the grass root level. Besides the social figures discussed earlier in this paper, a passage in the poem reads: Near yonder thorn, that lifts its head on high, Where once the sign-post caught the passing eye, Now lies that house where nut-brown draughts inspired, Where grey-beard mirth and smiling toil retired, Where village statesmen talk'd with looks profound, And news much older than their ale went round. (emphasis mine, 219 -224)

The image of “village statesmen” in the passage is efficient and effective enough to conceptualize village interventions under the active supervision of its “statesmen” whose knowledge, experience and wisdom based upon direct interaction with natural and social resources can be utilized for productive consequences in a given environment. Today anthropologists are busy studying traditional structures of integration, conservation, and natural resource management at micro levels to evolve a sustainable model for bigger levels in cities,

towns and townships. The traditional models are the result of centuries-old human interactions with the environment, and Goldsmith’s poetic vision verbally validates the same idea.

The following excerpt from Encarta (2009-2013) directly relates to the point under

consideration: Anthropological research has also shown that the key to people’s well-being in most small-scale societies centers on their relationship with their environments. For instance, anthropologists trained in botany and linguistics have found that individuals living in many small groups throughout the Amazon use hundreds of rain forest plants for medicine, food, and cosmetics. These societies have long maintained a successful way of life, satisfying their needs according to what the forest can sustainably provide (“Anthropology: Human Interactions with Environment,” Encarta 2009-2013).

Today, ecologists and environmentalists are engaged in devising efficient and effective strategies for community development, and their focus is on community participation and decentralization based upon local decision-making. Seen from the above angle, Goldsmith’s poem, in a way, foreshadows the following strategy of the UN: A major topic in the literature on community participation is the idea of decentralization. The discussion on this issue has been actively fostered by the United Nations (1975a, 1981) which called for the establishment or strengthening of local decision-making bodies in developing countries. The tendencies towards centralization, it is argued, must be resisted since ordinary people are becoming increasingly excluded from political affairs. Decentralization requires the creation of effective and democratically elected and representative decision-making bodies with clearly defined powers to administer programmes and control revenues (32).5 Besides cities and towns, Goldsmith’s “Auburn” can further be extended to the once ecologically integrated earth before its biosphere is degraded, endangering all organic life. The picture of ecologically integrated world has its intrinsic thematic connection with the way environmentalists sensitize us for conserving nature and its resources on sustainable grounds.

The poem’s ecological meaning conforms to the definition of eco-poetry “tentatively” devised by Gilcrest: …ecopoetry is a mode that, while adhering to a certain conventions of traditional nature poetry, advances beyond that tradition and takes on distinctly contemporary problems and issues, thus becoming generally marked by three primary characteristics: an ecological and biocentric perspective recognizing the interdependent nature of the world; a deep humility with regard to our relationships with human and non-human nature; and an intense skepticism toward hyperrationality; a skepticism that usually leads to condemnation of an overtechnologized modern world and a warning concerning the very real potential for ecological catastrophe.( 2)

Goldsmith’s DV provides us a window into what Gilcrest articulates in prose. DV continues to pose a nostalgic mode for sensitizing us to the potential of “ecological catastrophe,” caused by industrialism, which is the product of “hyperrationality.” Environmentalists recommend “rationality” for a moderate approach to nature for survival. Humanity today stands at the most important crossroad in its evolution. For the first, we possess the technical knowledge and productive potential, if used rationally, to assure every person the basic means of life. On the other hand, the present irrational use of this same knowledge and productive potential threatens not only to bring about the destruction of human civilization but also the extermination of all l life on our planet, through the economic activities that inflict irreversible damage to the Earth’s biosphere or through nuclear war (22).

Read from an ecological perspective, the verb “fled” in DV points to the absence of productive interactions between humans and nature in the wake of environmental degradation. The line “desolation saddens all thy green” treats nature as if it has lost its contact with its human agents in an interdependent environment. The image of “tyrant’s hand” further strengthens the idea that as if human aggression has been active in degrading the relationship between nature and humans. Goldsmith’s passage foregrounds the loss of productively interactive relationship between humans and nature, caused by the dehumanizing role of the rich imaged in “tyrant’s hand:” . Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,

Thy sports are fled and all thy charms withdrawn; Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen, And desolation saddens all thy green: One only master grasps the whole domain, And half a village stints thy smiling plain: (35-40).

In the above passage, the images “smiling plain” and “smiling village” seem to be an imaginative attempt on the poet’s part to humanize nature, suggesting that “smiling”—a physiological process associated with pleasure and happiness—is no longer there to suggest the strong and committed psychological bond between nature and culture. The productivity of our environment is based upon clean flowing water, which provides health and strength to all organic life. Water pollution is one of the greatest threats to organic life today. A passage reads in DV: No more thy glassy brook reflects the day, But, choked with sedges, works its weedy way. Along thy glades, a solitary guest, The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest; Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies, (41-45)

The picture of alienation in the above passage alludes to the lack of productive relationship between birds, glades and water, as water courses have become blocked. There is no more clean water to reflect its surroundings, suggesting as if the natural mirror has become blackened, incapable of showing the process of interdependence in a symbolic/spiritual way. The broken ecological relationship is further imaged as “unvaried cries,” “shapeless ruin” and “spoiler’s hand” with the result that its “children” (humans) leave the scene as if frightened : And tires their echoes with unvaried cries. Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all, And the long grass o'ertops the mouldering wall; And trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand, Far, far away, thy children leave the land.


In the poem, the process of desertification is attributed to the development of industrial sector at the cost of neglecting traditional agricultural ecology: Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates and men decay: Princes and lords may flourish or may fade; A breath can make them, as a breath has made; (51-54)

Placed in a global context, the expression “ill fares the land” can be extended to “ill fares the earth” to highlight the issues related to the environment—global warming, water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution depletion of forests, extinction of habitats and species.

Grifo and

Rosenthal draw our attention draw our attention to some basic problems in the wake of environmental degradation:

… we are losing plants, animals, and microorganism that may contain valuable medicines to treat human diseases that are presently untreatable and that cause enormous human suffering. At the present time, a significant proportion of the total pharmaceutical armamentariam is derived from these natural resources. For example, all of the prescriptions dispensed from community pharmacies in the United States from 1959 to 1980, some 25% contained active ingredients extracted from higher plants (Fansworth 1990), and of the 150 drugs most commonly prescribed in the United States, a significant proportion are derived wholly or in part from natural resources (see Chapter 7). The proportion is even higher in the developing world, where people are more apt to rely on traditional medicines using natural substances (21) .6

Goldsmith’s ecological philosophy revolves around the idea of condemning the industrial sector for destroying the strong spiritual bond between humans and farming. In our context, the images of “wealth” and “princes” are the developed countries on the one hand, and the rich industrialists everywhere on the other. Their only objective is to accumulate wealth at the cost of emitting tons of poisonous gases to destroy the atmosphere for all years to come. Through the semantic mirror of the passage, we can easily see the evil consequences of industrialism for temporary gains at the cost of damaging the environment in an irreparable way.

The verses (269-286) focus on the desires and activities of the rich leading to destructive economics. Those who directly depend upon natural resources for survival know the value and meaning of relationship between humans and nature. However, those who are not directly in touch with them are held responsible for their ignorance of the value of natural resources, hence engaged in “luxuries” leading to “fall:” The desire for money and wealth brings in its track jealousy, greed, negative lobbying. The rich strive for luxuries with zero regard for what happens to nature and it its resources. That is why they laugh at “simple blessings,” “spontaneous joys” and “native charm.” The reason is that they do not know the value of interdependence. Their objective is to enjoy “parks,” “ horses,” “silken sloth,” and “lakes” as luxury items, not as interdependent factors. The

rich have no genuine interest in the land and

its resources, and the land’s fall is approaching imperceptibly:

Indignant spurns the cottage from the green; Around the world each needful product flies, For all the luxuries the world supplies: While thus the land, adorned for pleasure all, In barren splendour feebly waits the fall. (282-286) The poet’s imaginative experience gains relevance if placed in an environmental context. Some environmentalists and ecologists condemn the capitalists of the North for the existing degradation of our planet, which Goldsmith had envisioned long ago . Here I refer to Nicholus’s … approach of the Sustainable Europe Campaign of Friends of the Earth. Their book Sharing the World sets out plans for how the planet’s “environmental space,” under rising stress and totally dominated the industrialized North, can be protected, fairly shared and made the basis of “total quality of life” for all six billion global citizens (11). Goldsmith’s Auburn is “Nichlos’ “the industrialized North” with its focus on promoting self-interests at the expense of causing industrial wastes, water, air and sound pollution. The end purpose of profit, money and wealth is luxurious living, which our poet makes the focal point of his criticism:

O luxury! thou cursed by heaven's decree, How ill exchanged are things like these for thee! How do thy potions with insidious joy Diffuse their pleasures only to destroy! Kingdoms, by thee to sickly greatness grown Boast of a florid vigour not their own. At every draught more large and large they grow, A bloated mass of rank unwieldy woe; Till sapped their strength and every part unsound, Down, down they sink and spread a ruin round.(385-394) The concluding image in the above passage is a “ruin round,” through which we can see the whole earth in its degrading process, having its thematic connection with that of the “grave.” This potential “Grave” is in the making if all humans, especially those of the “industrialized North,” do not join hands for practical and productive changes to stop the flames of luxury and to revisit their strategies for minimizing pollutants and maximizing substantive measures to restore environmental health and balance. The underlined expressions in the following passage further intensify the issues usually discussed in ecological and environmental circles, and some of them have turned into classroom clichés in our age: global warming (1-3); loss of interactions in a natural environment (4-5; use of insecticides and counterproductive farming (6-7); one-sided predation (9-10); and the devastating exploitation of natural resources in the hands of “mad’ humans leading to tsunamis in the oceans on the earth and damaging the ozone layer in the heavens: The various terrors of that horrid shore: Those blazing suns that dart a downward ray, And fiercely shed intolerable day; Those matted woods where birds forget to sing, But silent bats in drowsy clusters cling; 350 Those poisonous fields with rank luxuriance crowned, Where the dark scorpion gathers death around; Where at each step the stranger fears to wake The rattling terrors of the vengeful snake; Where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey, And savage men more murderous still than they; While oft in whirls the mad tornado flies, Mingling the ravaged landscape with the skies. (emphasis mine, 346-358 The contents presented in the above passage sound as if poeticized version of what an environmentalist would says:

The crisis is all-pervasive. The atmosphere heats up relentlessly, holes open in the ozone layer, forests are laid waste, waterways become cesspools, the remotest wilderness streams and lakes turn toxic, groundwater becomes contaminated and waste dump proliferate. The poison reaches deep into the biosphere as jungles fall to the axe, the sea is littered with toxic and radioactive waste and dwindling aquifers fill with filth. Each year the average air temperature rises, and the atmosphere unleashes more and more energy in tornadoes and cyclones of unprecedented destructiveness (Environment, Capitalism and Socialism, 22).

The above discussion leads us to the genre of eco-poetry with its focus on nature and issues related

to environment. The expression “biophilia,”7 which is a neologism for the love of

green environment, is also gaining ground as a social phenomenon to revisit our attitude toward nature and biodiversity, and Goldsmith’s text may be used as a vibrant tool for developing love, respect and compassion for the environment whose intricate system of ecology we are an integral part. In many ways, Goldsmith prefigures his American counterparts whose main concern is to poeticize eco-centric themes. For example, John Elder says: The Attentiveness to nature distinguishing today’s American poetry often expresses itself as hostility toward western civilization. Poet’s vivid and informed response can foster a revitalized sense of tradition, however, a vision of human culture in harmony with the rest of the natural order. Thus, poetry comes to resemble Hebrew prophecy in its quality of alienated authority. A solitary voice from the mountains calls upon the community to renew itself; a socially eccentric impulse makes possible a more balanced culture, concentric with the planet. In their imaginative passage from estrangement to transformation and reintegration, poets enact a circuit of healing. 8 (emphasis original, 1)

Read from Elder’s angle, Goldsmith’s idea of desertification kicks off a “socially eccentric impulse” in its verbal attack on the money- and profit- centered capitalistic culture but to awaken us to an ecologically balanced world for sustainable development. Goldsmith voices against industrialism and capitalistic economy,9 ironically, the very roots of development and growth in today’s Europe and America. This growth and development has been achieved at the cost of pushing the world toward global warming whose disastrous consequences are yet to be experienced, and the responsibility of this potential disaster rests on the “developed” nations.

Goldsmith gives us a vision to develop eco-friendly programmes for sustainable growth in the world. A well-glued social ecology, as envisioned by him in the pre-Desertified Mode ,is required to prepare humans for a productive change in their attitude toward nature and natural resources, as an ecologist would say his commentary on Bookchin : Programmatically, Bookchin arrives at four basic principles for the regeneration of society and ecology. These coordinating principles focus on (1) “the revival of the citizens assembly,” the confederation politics politics as a“ school for genuine citizenship,” and (4) the economic empowerment of communities via the “municipalization of property,” and the formulation of communal productivity policy by public democracy. For Bookchin, it only through social institutions such as these that we can overcome the social and ecological consequences of the centralized sate, modern market economies, and the technologies they spawn. Overcoming these institutions are the necessary conditions for reestablishing social and ecological differentiation ( 90)

What we can infer from the whole discussion is that Goldsmith‘s poem, The Deserted Village, provides us with a strong base to synergize human capital and natural resource. The contents of the text are more relevant today than they were in the initial stage of industrial development. The image of “garden to grave” may be used by environmentalists and ecologists as an advertizing item for promoting eco-friendly programmes all over the world. The poem may be included in the curriculum of environmental studies and interdisciplinary courses for informing and sensitizing students to the idea of maintaining the earth as a garden; otherwise, the days are not far off when the same “garden” may turn into a BIG GRAVE of all living organisms including the one whose consciousness gave us rocket science. As an artistic strategy, the poem can be employed for sensitizing all humans to treat their environment with care, compassion attention and commitment. The concept of the world as “global village,” which is generally used to conceptualize human interactions and interventions in terms of information, technology and business, is potentially charged with ecological energy if placed in the perspective as poetically imagined and developed in Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village.


For example, paradise or its variant is associated with gardens . Bacon is quoted below to substantiate the idea that there is something innate in humans for gardens. Bacon says, “ God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed it is the purest of human pleasures.” Francis Bacon, “Of Gardens,” Essays … 2

In Encarta (1993-2008), desertification has been defined in the following words: Desertification refers to the formation and expansion of degraded soil, not to the advancing movement of the current deserts. Desertification is found on every continent except Antarctica, but international attention has focused mostly on Africa, particularly the region known as the Sahel, the region of northern Africa immediately to the south of the Sahara desert. Desertification has been recognized as a problem since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s in the Midwestern United States, but it only became an international issue during the Great Drought in the Sahel between 1968 and 1973.


All subsequent reference are to this edition parenthetically incorporated in the text with line numbers. The title will appear as DV hereafter. 4 Shimer says: The destruction of Auburn not only implies the collapse of the social order in general prosperous, increasingly urban England and a generally unprosperous, stubbornly rural Ireland. One way in which Goldsmith’s poem draws politically charged distinction between the two countries, and suggests the victimization of one by the other, is through the use of imagery taken from the tradition of Irish nationalist thinking, specially the identification of Ireland, and the Irish landscape itself, with the figure of a betrayed woman. In describing the rise of men of wealth and the corresponding replacement of economic and social proportion with disproportion, Goldsmith presents the demise of the rural way of life in the image of an innocent country girl forced to the city for economic reasons, and there inevitably falling into evil ways: (47). Gregory, E. Shirmer, A History of Irish Poetry in English (New York:Cornell Univ Press, 1998 5

James Midgley, Community Participation, Social Development and the State (New York: Methuen, 1986) . Here it should be noted that The destruction of Auburn not only implies the collapse of the social order in general prosperous, increasingly urban England and a generally unprosperous, stubbornly rural Ireland. One way in which Goldsmith’s poem draws politically charged distinction between the two countries, and suggests the victimization of one by the other, is through the use of imagery taken from the tradition of Irish nationalist thinking, specially the identification of Ireland, and the Irish landscape itself, with the figure of a betrayed woman. In describing the rise of men of wealth and the corresponding replacement of economic and social proportion with disproportion, Goldsmith presents the demise of the rural way of life in the image of an innocent country girl forced to the city for economic reasons, and there inevitably falling into evil ways: (47).


Francesca Grifo and Joshua Rosenthal, edits. Biodiversity and Human Health (Washington, DC: Island Press, 1997), “Inplications for Human Health” 21. 9-25 7

For example, Orr says: The growing evidence supporting the biophilia hypothesis suggests that we fit better in environments that have more, not less, nature. We do better with sunlight, contact with animals, and it settings that include trees, flowers, flowing water, birds, and natural processes than in their absence. (25). For details, see David W. Orr. The Nature of Design: Ecology, Culture, and Human Intention (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). 8

John Elder, Imagining the Earth: Poetry and the Vision of Nature (Georgia: the Univ of Georgia, 1996)


What I want to stress here is that those who label themselves as “developed” are responsible for poisoning the environment. For example, Paker and Blodget say: A compelling fact to emerge from the database is that a few countries account for most of the emissions. Appendices A, B, and C present data concerning the top 20 greenhouse gas-emitting nations in 2000. They accounted for approximately 70 % of global emissions. Excluding land use data, the United Nations led in emitting greenhouse gases (1, 874 million metric tons of carbon equivalent, MMTCE) at 19 % of the total, followed by China (1,333 MMTCE) at nearly 14 % (4). For details see, Larry Paker and John Blodget. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Perspectives on the Top 20 Emitters and Developed Versus Developing Nations. Updated November 28, 2008.

Works Cited

Bonham-Carter, Victor. Land and Environment: the Survival of the English Countryside. New Jeresy: Associated University Presses, 1973. Bryson, J. Scot. “Preface.” The West Side of Any Mountain: Place, Space, and Eco-poetry. Iowa: Unioversity of Iowa Press. 2005. 1-6. Elam, Helen R and Francis Furgusan. Edit. The Wordsworthian Enlightenment: Romantic Poetry and the Ecology of Reading. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University, 2005.

Elder, John. Imagining the Earth: Poetry and the Vision of Nature. Georgia: the Univ of Georgia. 1996. Gilcrest, David W. “Toward A Rhetoric of Ecological Poetics.” Greening the Lyre: Environmental Ethics and Poetics. Nevada: University of Nevada Press, 2002. 9-36. Goldsmith, Oliver. The Deserted Village. Boston: Tilton, 1860. Gregory, E. Shirmer. A History of Irish Poetry in English. New York: Cornell Univ Press. 1998 Grifo, Francesca and Joshua Rosenthal. Edits. “Implications for Human Health.” Biodiversity and Human Health. Washing, DC: Island Press, 1997. 9-25. Harrison, Gary Lee. Wordsworth’s Vagrant Muse. Michigun: Wayne State University Press, 1994. Midgley, James. Community Participation, Social Development and the State. New York: Methuen, 1986. Nicholus, Dick. “Preface.” Environmental, Capitalism and Socialism. Chippandale: Resitance Books, 1999. Parker, Larry and John Blodget. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Perspectives on the Top 20 Emitters and Developed Versus Developing Nations. Updated November 28, 2008. Orr, David W. The Nature of Design: Ecology, Culture, and Human Intention. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Rasula, Jed. Ecological Imperatives in American Poetry. Janson MT: University of Georgia Press, 2001. Scigaj, Leonard M. “Ecopoetry and Criticism.” Sustainable Poetry. Kentucky: The University of Kentucky, 1999. 5-21.

From garden to grave final  

This is an eco-critical reading of Goldsmith's "Deserted Village" to sensitize readers to the issues of environment and pollution in our age...

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