Oliver Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village (1770) glorifies the superiority of agriculture to trade in the national economy. It is a pastoral lyric which glorifies the ecstasy of beholding the joy of peasantry.
The poet revisits Auburn, a village hallowed by the early associations. What he sees is its depopulation and the monopolizing riches, which have driven the peasants to emigration. He laments over the state of society where “wealth accumulates and men decay”. This is a sad impact of urbanization.
The poem The Deserted Village contains charming descriptions of village-life. The poem uses simple diction and melodious versifications. In the poem, sometimes we see proverbial or epigrammatic touch as in the following line:
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates and men decay
Some of the inset pictures of the village characters are sketched with affection for instance the account of the village school masters. There are serious portraits such as the accounts of the dispossessed emigrant poor and the “poor houseless shivering female” betrayed by a rich man which is quite sentimental.
The poem contains a note of pathos and the agony of eighteen years is well expressed. The poet hopes that at some time, he might return in his village to die amid the scenes of his childhood and he admits, “I still had hopes.” It is Goldsmith’s happy and satisfied rural community that inspired a protest in Crabbe’s The Village.