Once I Pass’d Through A Populous City: Summary & Analysis

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ONCE I pass’d through a populous city imprinting my brain for future use with its shows, architecture, customs, traditions,
Yet now of all that city, I remember only a woman I casually met there who detain’d me for love of me,
Day by day and night by night we were together-all else has long been forgotten by me,
I remember I say only that woman who passionately clung to me,
Again we wander, we love, we separate again,
Again she holds me by the hand, I must not go,
I see her close beside me with silent lips sad and tremulous.


      Introduction. Once I Pass’d Through A Populous City is a very small poem of seven lines originally published in 1860 in the collection entitled Children of Adam. Probably, the poet hints at the fact that a natural man without any sophisticated ideas will be satisfied with mere sexual indulgence. He need not care for anything else. He need not worry himself with hundreds of other problems and matters of moment.

      Summary. As mentioned in the title, Once I Pass’d Through A Populous City, the poet went through a city of a large number of inhabitants. Its shows, architecture, customs and traditions and many other things were observed by him but they did not have any permanent impact on him. The only thing that he remembered later on was his affair with a woman he casually met there but who passionately clung to him and was very reluctant to let him go. He remembered her for a long time after their separation. “Her sad and tremulous silent lips” stuck in his memory.

      Critical Analysis. The poem Once I Pass’d Through A Populous City, cannot boast of any remarkable feature. It is trivial except for its over-emphasis on the poet’s sexual dalliance with a woman whom he met casually. The “populous” city should have contained hundreds and thousands of beautiful women of great charm and allurement. None of them dared to approach the poet. Only one woman, probably very lonely and perhaps deserted by young men, crossed his path.

      What the special attraction of the woman was, the poet does not say. Why did he leave her without making any permanent alliance with her? We cannot answer that question, except that it is not the particular woman who matters but the intensity of the passionate sexual experience. The attitude may not appeal to many readers of an orthodox bent of mind.

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