George Crabbe: Poems

It Takes The Village: Crabbe and Social Consciousness

George Crabbe's The Village has long been perceived as a response to the flowery pastoral poetry of the late Eighteenth century, a genre marked by its praise of the countryside and the simple lives of shepherds and peasants. Indeed, Crabbe presents his dreary country village and the bleak existence of its rural poor using the same kinds of literary devices endemic to the traditional pastoral, suggesting his intent to lampoon this oft-misguided species of poetry. However, to analyze The Village as merely parody is to ignore the hefty social implications of the poem, which is ingenious in its employment of rhetorical strategies that speak to both the intellect and emotions of its audience. By tearing ownership of the countryside from the hands of the poet, enabling the reader to imaginatively explore the country setting, and hijacking traditional pastoral devices for his own use, Crabbe creates a forceful argument for the immediacy of the plight of the rural poor2E Crabbe's portrayal of rural poverty in The Village clearly goes beyond mere parody of the genre of pastoral poetry, appealing to the conscience of the reader in order that he or she might empathize with or even actively work to alleviate the social ills of the...

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