contentment, poetry

A number of poems were written on the subject of peasant contentment. Some of these were quoted by the tourists, others written by them.

Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o’er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Thomas Gray (1716-71)

1758 ‘A Journey into Wales’
Thro’ ever blooming meads (which far excel
Whate’er romances of Arcadia tell)

The peasant here enjoys the meanest lot;
Coarse are his meals, and homely his cot.

In this cold region, this unfertile soil,
The harvest scarce repays the ploughman’s toil,
The blasted mountains, and the naked rocks,
But just with life sustain the climbing flocks,
Yet here old honesty, devoid of art,
And generous love springs native in the heart.
Here health, content, and temperance close ally’d
With smiling mirth eternally reside.
Vernon, William, A Journey to Wales: in Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1758)
Also as Anon, Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 27, (1757), pp. 226-7

1764 The Traveller
Yet still, e’en here, Content can spread a charm,
Redress the clime, and all its rage disarm.
Tho’ poor the peasant’s hut, his feasts tho’ small,
He sees his little lot, the lot of all;
Sees no contiguous palace rear its head,
To shame the meanness of his humble shed;
No costly lord the sumptuous banquet deal,
To make him loath the vegetable meal;
But calm, and bred in ignorance and, toil,
Each wish contracting, fits him for the soil.
Oliver Goldsmith, (1730–1774)

1788 (before)
Thy mossy banks, and rural seats!
Thy waving groves, thy hamlets mean,
Where Poverty, with brow serene,
Where Innocence and Peace reside.
Noted in the journal of Eleanor Butler, Llangollen, in 1788
From Mavor, William, Miscellanies, (1829, but presumably published before that), p. 373-4

Other poems on the subject include:

Contentment by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)

The Peasant by Robert Anderson (1770–1833)

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