The Poplar Field
Writer: William Cowper
This poem ‘The Poplar Field’ is composed by William Cowper. In this poem, the poet has raised his voices against the destruction of the forests and the favour of nature conservation. According to this poem, poplars are cut down and there are no shades. The leaves can’t sing melodious songs. So the poet is very sad. The shade and the song of the wind have missed from his sight and the poet doesn’t get the image of Ouse River. The blackbird has fled away to find the shelter in next trees. Twelve years before, the poet used to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the poplar tree heard the melodious song of the blackbird. But now, there is no melodious music of birds and wind as it was before. The poet thinks that he will die one day. He says that all the pleasures of man are destroyed. Even our life is short but our enjoyment will die before our death. He says that he is lying on the earth like the tree. He feels that cutting down the trees is as serious as the death of human beings. The poet thinks that she pleasures of man are perishable and momentary. So, he appeals to the people for conserving nature. He says that deforestation should be stopped. This poem is remarkable for its celebration of the rural and its nostalgic tone. In the past, he had recollected the beauty of nature. But now he has no pleasures in the world’s trees. Thus, he gives the idea of the cut-down poplars trees with the end of human life and pleasures.
Important Questions and Answers :
1. Summarize the poem “The Poplar Field” in one paragraph.
Ans: The poem ‘The Poplar Field’ was composed by William Cowper. The poet compares the condition of the poplar field before 12 years and after 12 years. Before twelve years, when he visited the poplar field, at that time there were many trees and the shade of these trees could be seen in the Ouse River. The blackbird used to sing. The wind used to blow in the leaves. He sat under the trees. But after twelve years he found nothing, only cut down trees were lying on the ground. Finally, the poet compares his life with the condition of those poplar trees. The trees were once strong and straight but now they are lying on the ground, similarly, the poet was also handsome and young but now he has become old and he thinks he will lie on the ground soon. It means he will die soon.
2. What changes did the poet see in the poplar field when he came back after 12 years?
Ans: After twelve years, he saw many changes in the poplar field. The trees were cut down. They were lying down on the ground there was no reflection of trees in the Ouse River. The blackbirds had left the poplar field. The poet couldn’t hear the bird’s song. The wind wasn’t blowing in the leaves of the trees as in the past. He sat on cut down trees.
3. Discuss how the poet links up the idea of the cut-down poplars with the end of human life and pleasures.
Ans: After twelve years, he saw many changes in the poplar field. The trees were cut down. They were lying down on the ground there was no reflection of trees in the Ouse River. The blackbirds had left the poplar field. The poet couldn’t hear the bird’s song. The wind wasn’t blowing in the leaves of trees as in the past. He sat on cut down trees. The poplar field has changed to a desert. The sight of the fallen poplars makes the poet feel sad. He realizes that he will die soon in the future and lie in the grave like the fallen poplars lying on the grass. The poet also says that our pleasures are shorter than our life.
The poet finds a poplar field deserted when he returns thereafter twelve years. Now, the trees are laid in the grass. On seeing the sight, he feels that when natural resources are destroyed, not only our pleasures and enjoyments are affected but even our life is shortened. We all are a part of nature. As one of the components of nature, we are also related to the other components, and dependent on them as well. Thus, the end of poplars also means the end of human life.
4. Write an essay on “Living in the country.”
Ans: A vast majority of people in Nepal live in the country. Living in the country has its own advantages and disadvantages. Living in the country means living a peaceful and healthy life. There is no crowd of people and vehicles. We can get fresh air, water and food. We need not go to Gyms or morning walk to reduce our weight in the country. We spend most of the time working in the field. We carry sacks full of grains and baskets loaded with foodstuffs and other things of daily use. This makes us physically strong and fit. Forests, rivers, meadows, and fields full of plants make the country peaceful.
Living in the country has some disadvantages too. We get limited exposure to modern technology. We have limited knowledge of national and international events. We can hardly free ourselves from ignorance, superstitions and meaningless customs. We have limited access to newspapers and magazines. We cannot get good schools for our children.
5. Consider this poem as a defence of nature conservation.
Ans: This poem is written in favour of nature conservation. People are destroying the forests to fulfil their selfish desire. But the pleasure they get from this short-sighted act will about great destruction in the world. The world will be a bare land if this process continues. Therefore, it is unwise to cut down trees in order to fulfil the short-lived pleasures.
Questions for Practice:
- What does the poet miss when he visits the poplar field after the poplars were cleared?
- Why is William Cowper saddened by the devastation of the poplar trees?
- Why do you think the poet has written this poem in the first person?
- Discuss how the poet links up the idea of the cut-down poplars with the end of human life and pleasures.