Oliver Goldsmith: Poems
Oliver Goldsmith, W. B. Hutchings
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Oliver Goldsmith’s career belongs to the new era of literary professionalism which was born in the late seventeenth century and grew up in the course of the following century. He wrote essays, book reviews, translations, plays, prose fiction and poetry. He wrote for many magazines, and set up his own. And he knew most of the major figures in the literary, dramatic and publishing worlds of the second half of the eighteenth century. His best work is rooted in the times in which he lived but also has an appeal to later generations. This is particularly true of his most famous poem, The Deserted Village, which combines a nostalgic vision of a mythical past with a hard-headed perception of social realities.
know, Extorted from his fellow-creature’s woe. 315 320 Here, while the courtier glitters in brocade, There the pale artist plies the sickly trade;  Here, while the proud their long drawn pomps display,  There the black gibbet glooms beside the way.  The dome where Pleasure holds her midnight reign,  Here richly decked admits the gorgeous train,  Tumultuous grandeur crowds the blazing square, The rattling chariots clash, the torches glare;  Sure scenes like these
poets, notably Matthew Prior (e.g. ‘Hans Carvel’) and Jonathan Swift (e.g. ‘Strephon and Chloe’). Bibliography J. A. Downie, ‘Goldsmith, Swift and Augustan Satirical Verse’, in The Art of Oliver Goldsmith, ed. Andrew Swarbrick (London : 1984), pp.126–43 Line 6. freshmen. Students in their first year at university. wondered. Marvelled. Followed in 1760 by : He raked and toasted, dived or shone : And even was thought a knowing one. Without politeness aimed at breeding, And laughed at pedantry
to Venus, the goddess of beauty. Line 1. the nine. The Muses. Line 9. Paphian. Venus is said to have landed at Paphos, a town in Cyprus, after her birth among the waves. On the Death of the Right Honourable First printed in the Public Ledger, March 4, 1761; then in The Citizen of the World, Letter 106 (1762), the text followed here. The letter ridicules the habit of writing empty funeral elegies in praise of the great. Goldsmith introduces the verses by commenting : ‘There is not in
version is a separate revision of an earlier MS. Both versions are sparsely punctuated. The present text follows the Dodsley version, with added punctuation. Neither MS is dated. However, Goldsmith signed a receipt on October 31, 1764 for 10 guineas from James Dodsley ‘for an Oratorio’. Oratorios, semi-dramatic musical compositions usually on sacred themes, were popular at the time. Goldsmith’s work is set in 539 BC, at the time of the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews. The last king of Judah,
285. sedulous. Diligent. 121 Line 286. rampire. Rampart, dam. artificial. Artfully constructed. Line 290. usurps. Intrudes onto. Line 292. amphibious. Consisting of both land and water. Line 295. mart. Market-place. Line 297. wave-subjected. That is, subject to the power of the sea. Line 300. industry. Diligence, hard work. Line 311. bent. Determined, resolute. Line 314. Rough. Rugged. Line 315. brow. Forehead. Line 317. Begins the prospect of Britain. genius. Spirit.