The Poplar Field by William Cowper: Summary and Critical Analysis

The poplars are cut down and we don’t get here any shade and the sound of the wind. They used to grow along River Ouse and we could see their reflection in the water, but now there is nothing to see. The poet once used to sit under the trees. Now he sits on them. The trees are no longer standing. They are lying on the grass.

William Cowper

He used to hear the blackbirds singing. Now they have flown away. He can’t hear their sweet song. His years are passing very quickly and one day he will have to die and lie in this grave. But other trees will not have grown in their places by then. This sight makes him think that human enjoyments are shorter than short human life.

The poem 'The Poplar Field' shows the poet’s affiliation towards nature in rural life, which is remarkable for his celebration of the rural and nostalgic tone. The poet strongly rejects the sinful deeds to the natural resources especially the poplar trees in this poem. The poet is in favor of afforestation to maintain ecological balance. Deforestation is really a great challenge to the world and it has affected the poet emotionally. The poet has visited the bank of the Ouse River after 12 years where he used to play under the shadow of the beautiful poplar trees.

The poet sentimentally recalls that the cutting down poplar trees causes the adverse impact in human life. This poem is a satire to the present human civilization that has become the curse for the protection of natural resources. The poem is particular about the deforestation and destruction of the poplar fields in the bank of the Ouse River in England which has resulted in the disappearances of the shade and the whispering sound. It has also lost the shelter for blackbird which used to make the environment melodious by their songs. The poet has missed everything in his twelve years time. He neither sees the reflections of the trees in the river water nor the wind playing with the leaves of the trees. The poet recalls that it was his favorite place to stay which provide him shades, but now he regrets that they are laid down on the grounds.

The poet shows his deep rooted sympathy upon the creatures from the trees such as blackbirds. As the trees are cut down, the blackbird has gone to another place. Likewise their melodious chirping and sweet booming songs that charmed the poet most has also gone.

Finally, the poet laments and regrets about the temporary pleasures and ecstasies of human being like of the poplar trees in the bank of Ouse River. The poet’s point is to highlight the short human life which cultivates the pleasure seeking tendency of becoming selfish towards nature.

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