To One Who Has Been Long in City Pent - Summary & Analysis

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To one who has been long in city pent,
'Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven,—to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
Who is more happy, when, with heart's content,
Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair
Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair
And gentle tale of love and languishment?
Returning home at evening, with an ear
Catching the notes of Philomel,—an eye
Watching the sailing cloudlet's bright career,
He mourns that day so soon has glided by:
E'en like the passage of an angel's tear
That falls through the clear ether silently.


      It depicts the delight in natural scenery and the enjoyment of a man who has been for a long time living in a city, and is now enjoying the sights and pleasures of rural life. He sees the fair blue sky directly, and not through a pall of smoke as is the case in the city. He finds it a luxurious experience reclining among long grasses, and reading a light story of love or romance. Coming home to his lodging at night, he hears with pleasure the song of the nightingale; watches the little cloudlet sailing across the sky, illuminated by the setting sun. He feels some regret that the day has passed away so quickly, and compares it to the brief passage of a tear dropped by an angel in heaven, falling silently down through the air.


      This is one of the most characteristic moods of English poetry, that of joy in Nature, in the sweet countryside where the scenery is unspoiled and where one gets away from the unlovely side of city life, with its smoke and hurry and commercialized mentality. There is no other motive in this short and simple poem, no symbolism or concealed meaning, no moral or spiritual lesson, but simply the poet’s expression of the joy of living for a short while in the heart of nature.

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