"All humans are members of the same body Created from one essence"

"Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain."

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Simon Lee, The Old Huntsman

In the sweet shire of Cardigan,
Not far from pleasant Ivor-hall,
An old man dwells, a little man, -
'Tis said he once was tall.
Full five-and-thirty years he lived
A running huntsman merry;
And still the centre of his cheek
Is red as a ripe cherry.

No man like him the horn could sound,
And hill and valley rang with glee
When Echo bandied, round and round,
The halloo of Simon Lee.
In those proud days, he little cared
For husbandry or tillage;
To blither tasks did Simon rouse
The sleepers of the village.

He all the country could outrun,
Could leave both man and horse behind;
And often, ere the chase was done,
He reeled, and was stone-blind.

And still there's something in the world
At which his heart rejoices;
For when the chiming hounds are out,
He dearly loves their voices!

But, Oh the heavy change! -bereft
Of health, strength, friends, and kindred, see!
Old Simon to the world is left
In liveried poverty.
His Master's dead, and no one now
Dwells in the Hall of Ivor;
Men, dogs, and horses, all are dead;
He is the sole survivor.

And he is lean and he is sick;
His body, dwindled and awry,
Rests upon ankles swoll'n and thick;
His legs are thin and dry.
One prop he has, and only one,
His wife, an aged woman,
Lives with him, near the waterfall,
Upon the village Common.

Beside their moss-grown hut of clay,
Not twenty paces from the door,
A scrap of land they have, but they
Are poorest of the poor.
This scrap of land he from the heath
Enclosed when he was stronger;
But what to them avails the land
Which he can till no longer?

Oft, working by her Husband's side,
Ruth does what Simon cannot do;
For she, with scanty cause for pride,
Is stouter of the two.
And, though you with your utmost skill
From labour could not wean them,
'Tis little, very little -all
That they can do between them.

Few months of life has he in store
As he to you will tell,
For still, the more he works, the more
Do his weak ankles swell.
My gentle Reader, I perceive
How patiently you've waited,
And now I fear that you expect
Some tale will be related.

O Reader! had you in your mind
Such stores as silent thought can bring,
O gentle Reader! you would find
A tale in every thing.
What more I have to say is short,
And you must kindly take it:
It is no tale; but, should you think,
Perhaps a tale you'll make it.

One summer-day I chanced to see
This old Man doing all he could
To unearth the root of an old tree,
A stump of rotten wood.
The mattock tottered in his hand;
So vain was his endeavour,
That at the root of the old tree
He might have worked for ever.

"You're overtasked, good Simon Lee,
Give me your tool," to him I said;
And at the word right gladly he
Received my proffered aid.
I struck, and with a single blow
The tangled root I severed,
At which the poor old Man so long
And vainly had endeavoured.

The tears into his eyes were brought,
And thanks and praises seemed to run
So fast out of his heart, I thought
They never would have done.
- I've heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds
With coldness still returning;
Alas! the gratitude of men
Hath oftener left me mourning.

In the Preface to “Lyrical Ballads”, Wordsworth explains the revolutionary and experimental nature of the poetry within the volume, highlighting his philosophy of what poetry is (“the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings that come from emotion recollected in tranquility”) and who the poet (“a man speaking to men”) is. Wordsworth’s manifesto of Romantic poetry is reflected in his poetry.

Wordsworth wanted to use a diction which represents the simple healthy life of the farmers and peasants and he totally rejected the poetic diction of the neoclassicism. For example, in the poem “We Are Seven”, Wordsworth lets “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings that come from emotion recollected in tranquility” rise to the surface. In a simple language, disrobed of poetical terms, Wordsworth uses the “real language of men” to move his readers. Indeed, the poem, “We Are Seven” is a simple story between a narrator and an eight-year old girl who tells him about her family. Through this poem, the poet uses a simple story with uncomplicated characters and a simple, repetitious speech to confront the important topic of death. The poet wrote, “But they are dead; those two are dead! / Their spirits are in heaven! / ‘Twas throwing words away; for still / The little Maid would have her will, / And said, “Nay, we are seven!” (l 65-70) 

Furthermore, the poem “Simon Lee” is also written in a simple, common language and it describes an old huntsman who is well-known as a great hunter. The narrator lowers himself to the same level as Simon Lee because he believes that the rural lower class is much closer to nature. “Simon Lee” is a poem that shows “a man speaking to men” and Wordsworth wanted to portray common life by the use of a common and simple language. 

Wordsworth had felt the need indeed to write a poetry which describes everyday subjects and he used the language of real men. He rejected the poetic diction of neoclassicism and he used a language of great simplicity with no images.

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