The Vanishing Village
About the Poet | R.S Thomas
Ronald Stuart Thomas was a Welsh poet and Anglican clergyman noted for his nationalism, spirituality, and deep dislike of Anglicization (making English in form, idiom, style, or character) of Wales. He was an ace writer who wrote in favor of traditional values.
Summary | Main Idea of the Poem
The Vanishing Village is composed by a Welsh poet R.S. Thomas who has a deeply religious background. He is also realistic, open-minded, and cautious in his views and conclusions. This poem is in the form of an elegy composed for a nearly vanished village abandoned by its inhabitants due to a large-scale shift towards cities.
The village is a victim of neglect. Its inhabitants have deserted it, and most of them have gone to the big cities for modern facilities. The poet explains that his concern is about the basic unit of human civilization is being neglected selfishly.
In the starting lines, the poet portrays a sad and gloomy picture of the deserted village. There are only a few houses that have survived. They are also in a destructive condition. A small street links a public house to a shop.
After that, the street stops at the top of the little hill which has become all barren. Grass has completely disappeared. There is no activity in the village. The black dog killing its fleas in the hot sun has become a symbol of the history of the village.
Life has come to a standstill. The whole place is deserted and covered by a sloth and stagnation. It presents a scene of hopeless desolation. The reason is that all its inhabitants have migrated to big cities in search of better prospects and a future.
The poet feels the pain to see that the basis of human civilization is being devasted by its founders. The poem is criticism and satire of modern urban society. It mourns over the loss of village life and blames industrial cities for this miserable situation. The Poet condemns the continuous large-scale migration of the rural population.
It is only villagers to run away from their homes. Modern facilities are available in cities and rural areas are deprived of them. The farmers are forced to back their homes. So the poem is a strong and healthy criticism of the materialistic attitude of human beings.
However, on an optimistic note, he hopes for a revival of a traditional village’s colorful life and activity. The poet sees no sign of life and hope in the village. The girl who goes from door to door is a symbol of revival and renewal.
He is optimistic that the village will surely come out of its present disappointing condition. It will become the center of activity again. The tone and mood of the poet are nostalgic, wistful, and sad. He is sorrowful at the decline of beautiful and pleasant rural culture.
He loves village life and firmly believes that the deserted village will regain its vitality and dynamic life once again. The poem The Vanishing Village deals with the sad and mournful conditions of the poet.
According to the poet, the village and the role of villagers are important for the country’s progress and prosperity. A village has to play a meaningful role in the social evolutions explained by the great thinker Plato. The poet yearns for the revival of the previous colorful life and activity of the ideal Greek village.
So the central idea revolves around the importance of the existence of the village.
The poet longs to retain the village in the modern setup of the world because the village is the basic essential unit of human civilization and we should not let it vanish.
Explanation and Reference to Context
Scarcely a street, too few houses
To merit the title, just a way between
The one tavern and the one shop
That leads nowhere and fails at the top
Of the short hill, eaten away
By long erosion of the green tide
Of grass creeping perpetually nearer
This last out spot of time past.
Reference to Context
These lines have been taken from the poem The Vanishing Village written by R.S. Thomas. In this poem, the poet has presented the graphic picture of a deserted village. The village is a victim of neglect. The inhabitants of the village have migrated to cities.
Most of the houses and streets have disappeared. The wild grass and bushes are creeping towards the village to engulf it. However, the poet hopes that the village will flourish again. Actually, the poet has given a very gloomy sight of the deserted village.
The poet regrets the disappearance of the physical charms, beauties, and activities of village life. The village is so small that it can hardly be given the name of a village. With time, the villages are being vanished gradually and perpetually.
In these lines, the poet describes that he is standing in a deserted village. He wonders whether it is an inhabited village or a historical ruin. He says that there is hardly a street which is left in the village. As the villagers have left their village forever so the streets have also gone with them.
The same is the case with the houses. There are only a few houses in a street. There is only a path which joins a shop and a public house. This path also ends at the top of the hill which has almost disappeared.
The path is overgrown on both sides with greenery. It is the last out spot of the village but slowly and steadily this mark is vanishing with the onward rush of time. It seems that the village has become a part of history. It is not present today.
So little happens, the black dog
Cracking his fleas in the hot sun
Is history. Yet the girl who crosses
From door to door moves to a scale
Beyond the bland day’s two dimensions
Reference and Context
Same as for the lines 1-8
In these lines, the poet says that there is nothing important happening in this village. The village is disappearing very fast. There is only a black dog sitting in the sun and striking flees from his skin. The dog represents the history of the village.
The dog is the symbol and sign that once the village was populated. Now there is very little life in it. In this wilderness, the poet sees a girl who goes from one door to the other in street. She is the future of the village.
She links the village with the activity of her energetic movement. Her presence shows that wilderness and decay can not be the permanent feature of the village. Now the poet hopes that the activity of life will come back again.
Stay, then, village for round you spin
On a slow axis a world as vast
And meaningful as nay poised
By great Plato’s solitary mind
Reference and Context
Same as for the lines 1-8
In the given lines, the poet expresses his strong belief that the village will always stay there. He believes that the village will never disappear. The speed of its disappearance may get slow. Its precious hustle and bustle may return.
Thomas does not like the villagers to abandon their shift to some city. Thomas does not like the villagers to abandon their village and shift to some city. The death of villages will cause the death of cities. He thinks that the village is the center of human society and culture on earth.
The great philosopher Plato also believes that the village is a state in miniature as it is in the village that man learns how to rule others and how to be ruled by others. Plato idealizes the village as the symbol of human civilization.
Thus the village and the type of life it represents, should not be allowed to disappear. The poet has referred to the tragic fact of modern life where small villages with all their beauty are disappearing. He has very artistically conveyed his sense of sorrow and loss.
Important Questions and Their Answers
Describe the revival of the colorful life in the village
Discuss the importance of the village. Do you share the sad feelings of the poet about the vanishing village?
How does the poet idealize the village as a unit of human habit?
The poem The Vanishing Village fills us with sad and sorrowful feelings. We cannot be happy at the disappearance and destruction of the village. A village is the basic unit of human culture and civilization. The village is a basic essential unit of human civilization.
The villagers work very hard in the country. They produce the raw material for different necessities of life. If the villagers rush to the cities in search of jobs and modern facilities of life, the inhabitants of the city are bound to starve.
Because the villagers supply food, grain, and other raw material for the people of a country. The inhabitants of the city cannot grow food grains and raw materials. If the village is destroyed, people will suffer for want of milk, food, cotton, and other necessities of life.
The picture of the deserted village painted by the poet has a great influence on every reader. He feels sad at the loss of social values and golden traditions connected with village life. We share the sad feelings of the poet about the vanishing village.
We are forced to say with the poet that the village is still the basic unit of human civilization. There is a hidden message for the villagers that they should not run away to the cities for materialistic pursuits.
Discuss the gloomy picture of the village in your own words.
Do you share the sad feelings of the poem about the vanishing village?
Describe the sad and nostalgic feelings of the poet.
What is the theme of the poem The Vanishing Village?
The Vanishing Village presents a look of desolation, a picture of waste and despair. Do you agree?
The vanishing Village offers us a gloomy and dark picture of a deserted village. The poet is not happy and wants to raise a strong voice against the massive migration of the villagers to the cities. In the city, man becomes the slave of routine life.
At the start of the poem, the poet says that there are a few houses, one street, one tavern, one shop, just to merit the title of the village. The only path of the village that leads to a hill’s top where it ends.
Grass has grown on the sides of the road in abundance and it looks deserted. There is complete silence in the village. It is without the activities of human beings. The inn and the shop are joined by a path that leads nowhere.
The one tavern and the one shop That leads nowhere and fails at the top
There is no hustle and bustle of life. There s only one old dog that is near death. The dog is old and inactive. The same is the condition of the village. The image of the old dog is very suitable to describe the vanishing village. After reading the poem, we feel sadness.
We share the sad feelings of the poet about the vanishing vilalge. We may also say that villages are vanishing and disappearing in the sense that the love, sincerity, hospitality, brotherhood, and kindness that are once the hallmarks of village life have now finished.
The poet considers that the village is the basic unit of civilization. it has to play a meaningful role in the social development explained by the great thinker Plato. He is serious about the vanishing of the basic unit of civilization. At the destruction of the village, he sees the annihilation of the village life with its golden traditions and social values.
Is the poem The Vanishing Village a criticism of modern urban culture? Discuss.
The poem The Vanishing Village is sad criticism of modern urban culture. It mourns the loss of village life and blames industrial cities for this miserable situation. It condemns large-scale migration of the rural population.
It has resulted in the destruction of this important unit of human civilization. The poet believes that a village as Plato thought is still the foundation stone of human civilization. Anything that harms or destroys this foundation must be opposed.
So, the poet indirectly attacks the modern industrial culture of cities. The poem is also a satire on the selfishness, greed, and materialism approach of modern man. It is the unfair distribution of opportunities that forces the simple villagers to run away from their homes.
Modern facilities are available in cities and rural areas are deprived of them. Agricultural machinery has reduced the need for human labor. So, the farmworkers have become jobless. Small landowners have sold properties and have settled in towns and cities. In this way, the villages have become empty and deserted.
There is an air of gloom, laziness, and isolation in the village. The houses are falling down. There is no activity or life there. The poet feels sad about this pathetic scene. However, the poet is not totally hopeless. He hopes that human society will soon realize the value of the village.
He believes that city life cannot give them the peace, comfort, and happiness for which they had left their village houses. He hopes that they will come back and revive all the activities of a happy village.
They have given place to greed, selfishness, materialism, and intrigues. In the end, we can say that villages do exist even now physically with more comforts and leisure but the life and blood of it has been sucked by the leech of materialism.