A Sense Of Loss In William Cowper’s Poem 'The Poplar Field'

William Cowper’s poem “The Poplar Field” is a poem that could be compared to a walk down memory lane. Cowper talks about his favorite field where he spent much of his childhood in. The language in his poem is inserted to show the readers how much he misses his older times. The poem shows the poet’s raw feelings and allows the reader to feel sympathy for him.

Cowper’s language and vocabulary allows readers to feel the sense of loss that he is putting. He starts the poem with “The poplars are felled, farewell to the shade.” The fact that Cowper used the words felled and farewell to start the poem emphasizes how upset he really is about his loss. Additionally, the poet uses the word farewell when he is speaking about the shade. This is unusual because this exaggerates the importance of the shade which usually is not significant in everyday life.

The poet often dwells on the past in his poem presenting the readers with his memory of the field. Cowper even goes into detail about the blackbird that was present when he would go to the field when he says “and the scene where his melody charmed me before.” Yet again Cowper seems to go into the small details that are usually unnoticeable and he makes them seems very important to the readers. He shows us how pleasant his time was through the word “charmed.” The small details he presents allows us to feel as though we are there however, he then tells us that it is all gone, hitting the readers with the reality of his loss.

Throughout the whole poem, Cowper shows and exaggerates his love for the field. He expresses his feelings towards the field through his sense of loss. He does this by comparing himself to the field, for example when he says “And I must ere long lie as lowly as they.” This comparison shows us that he thinks that he (as a human being) is of the same importance of that field. Its humbling that he thinks since the poplars lie low he must too. The readers might find this as an attractive characteristic of his personality, however it also shows how much he loves and misses that field that he compares himself to it.

Finally, Cowper also conveys a sense of loss through a variety of language features. His poem is very analytical meaning every word and sentence has a hidden meaning; his words are never just there. Cowper says “and the tree is my seat that once lent me a shade.” This is an example of personification of the tree, he does this to make it seem like the tree has emotions like us. It allows the readers to feel like the tree was kind although that isn’t possible and through that he achieves the reader’s sympathy about his loss.

The poet’s love for the field is shown multiple times in the poem repetitively. He makes the readers feel like his loss of the field is the equivalent of losing a person dear to them. You can easily see that Cowper has added a melancholic mood to the poem to further exaggerate his loss. In conclusion, the poet succeeds in achieving our sympathy for his loss of something that usually isn’t so major. 

09 March 2021
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