Analysis of "The Poplar Field"

Topics: Future, Time, Present Pages: 3 (1050 words) Published: November 30, 2012
It has been said that “Cowper’s life was tormented by a set of symptoms, habits, and fears which his poetry in many places reflects…we consider that Cowper turned to poetry for reasons intimately connected with the torment of his life at times became for him.” (Feingold Para. 1) William Cowper utilizes setting in his poem “The Poplar Field” to represent his reflections on the passage of time; we go on a journey with Cowper to visit the past, present, and future of the speaker and the journey is warped around different landmarks in speaker’s life and represented by the effects of aging, not only of the speaker, but on the poplar field as well. In lines 5-6, we walk with the speaker as he reminisces twelve years in the past, where he first had the opportunity to gather a glimpse of the poplar field. We are able to see the setting come to life, where the trees and the young speaker grew together on the bank. The past represents a time for the speaker that was precious to him- his youth, a time of little responsibility where he lacked accountability for his actions. Cowper utilizes a dance between the past and present to show a reflection of the passage of time as one of the first significant underlying themes for the speaker. From this experience with his past, we are able to see his childhood and what the speaker is missing from the past to the present. The poplar field brings many memories of shade and comfort for the speaker but it is short-lived as we begin to see Cowper bring the speaker back to reality in lines 7-12, and the speaker begins to see the remains from the poplar trees that once shaded him from the blazing sun, now lying leafless and lifeless on the ground (line 7). We are now able to see as Cowper ties us to the reality of what the speaker is seeing in his present moment and the brutal setting that is laid before him. The speaker is brought back to a harsh reality where the blackbirds have fled to a new retreat (line 9) and because the trees are...
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