The vanishing village by R. S Thomas

Introduction
The vanishing village by R.S Thomas is a beautiful depiction of the modern village. Due to modern man’s carelessness, villages are shrinking and approaching to a disastrous end. The world is not aware that villages are the primary foundation of civilization, without which human existence on Earth would be impossible because we rely on villages for our survival, but the mania of modernity is depriving men of true beauty and villages of their true life. The poet’s tone is fairly nostalgic and wistful, but there is a tiny hope mixed with nostalgia that the girl is still walking in the desolate village. Symbolically, it depicts the yearned-for return of rural life.

Summary

The poem is about the physical charms and beauties of the village, as well as its activities, which are rapidly vanishing. It also emphasises the significance of the village as a primary social unit that acts as the foundation of modern society.

This poem describes a forlorn village. It appears to be a haunting settlement. It has only a few dwellings and no streets. Its residents have left. The poet says that the people are migrating. As a result, villages in modern times have become desolate and deserted. The village has only one shop and one hotel. Houses are also in disrepair. The streets of the village are no longer visible. There is only one path in the hamlet, and it leads nowhere. The most heinous feature of the path is that it leads to the top of the hill. The long-term erosion caused by the green tide has eaten away at the hill.

In the poem, the village paints a bleak picture. It alludes to the negation of life; the desolate village represents the waste and barrenness of modern life. As villages disappear, so does healthy living. Death triumphed against death. The poet is deeply saddened by this shift.


The poet continues to paint a depressing picture of the village. He claims that his black dog, who previously tried to crack his fleas, has also perished. There is yet hope. There is a girl who goes from door to door, connecting the community to life and the environment.

The presence of the girl in the village represents hope. The abandoned village is not going anywhere. Perhaps this is the poem’s fundamental idea. However, the essential unit of civilization and culture remains the village. A village is still the most potent speck of life on the planet. It has to play an important role in the social evolution described by Plato, the great thinker.

Analysis

Although this is commonly seen as a pastoral and nostalgic poem, may it not be argued that it is anti-pastoral? The stunning image of the ‘black dog’ with his fleas should be enough to portray nature negatively. The image of the ‘erosion of the green tide of grass’ also suggests that nature is a negative force that, while powerful, appears to contribute to the village’s demise. The final stanza depicts the rest of the world as ‘meaningful,’ which could imply that the village is no longer significant: ‘Is history.’ And, while Thomas laments this since the rest of the world is so relevant, why should it matter? Unless the word ‘meaningful’ is sarcastic, in which case I understand the pastoral reading better.

The poet wishes for a return to the vibrant life and bustle of the ideal Greek hamlet. He laments the passing of a village. He is envious of the village’s rejuvenation. The poet’s tone is sorrowful, nostalgic, and occasionally funny. The glacial movement of the lines reflects the village’s frozen vitality.

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