Critical Analysis of ‘The Welsh Hill Country”
"The Welsh Hill Country” begins with a devastating picture of a landscape which was beautiful many years ago but which now has lost its lustre. The poetic speaker firstly describes the desolate moor and in the last stanza he introduces a farmer who in spite of finding this gloomy panorama is still farming the land. Therefore it seems that the central tension of the poem is the contradiction between the preconceived notion of the Welsh countryside and the reality of the landscape. The principal themes are the decay of natural beauty and the pessimism of being able to return to this idyllic era. The poem is divided into three main stanzas; each stanza discussing an important part of life in the countryside. Before analysis of the poem stanza by stanza, we must first address the central tension of the poem illustrated in the first line of each stanza. The poetic speaker seeks to deconstruct the preconceived notions that foreigners (i.e. the English) have about the Welsh countryside and instead portray the brutal reality of the landscape however unattractive it is. This is evident in the use of the phrase “to far for you to see” (line 1, line 7) and “too far, too far to see” (line 13) – the poetic speaker is trying to illustrate the immense gap between the preconceptions of a Wales that is alive, green and flourishing and the starkness of Wales as perceived by the poet, a Welshman. In the first stanza of the poem, the poetic speaker talks about the sheep on the Welsh Hills. However, his representation of the sheep is far from idyllic. The poetic speaker presents as with sheep that are diseased; this is evident in the poet’s use of the words “foot-rot”, “fluke” and “maggot” (line 2). Again, the use of these words and the negative connotations associated with them coupled with the idea in line 5 of the sheep being arranged “romantically” highlights the central tension of the idealistic view countryside and the reality...
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