Explanation of the poem "Vagabond" by R. L. Stevenson.
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Robert Louis Stevenson's (1850-1894) poem "The Vagabond" celebrates the glorious freedom and independence of a tramp's life. All the four stanzas of "The Vagabond" repeatedly emphasize the unrestrained joys of an independent life in the outdoors free from all its hassles.
All that the vagabond is interested in is a life of unlimited travel. He wants to completely avoid all human associations - "nor a friend to know me."All that he wants to do is travel and travel from one place to another without any restraint whatsoever, not concerned about the weather or material wealth or possessions or anything else around him:
"Give the face of earth around,
And the road before me.
Wealth I ask not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I ask, the heaven above
And the road below me."
He would like to spend his entire life in the outdoors even in the cold autumn and winter months with the sky as his roof:
Not to autumn will I yield,
Not to winter even!
Most importantly, he wishes for a completely carefree life and is not bothered or frightened about death at all:
Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o'er me.
He starts the poem by asking to be given the life that he loves. Then he describes the life on the road, sleeping outside and swimming inthe river. Inthe next stanza he says he knows he will die sooner or later but he asks for a life on the road. He says he doesn't need wealth or friends. In the next stanza he speaks of harsh conditions in autumn and winter but says that htye will not deter him in his yearning to be on the road. In the final stanza, he reiterates what he said inthe second stanza, that he knows he will die sooner or later but he only wants to live his life as he wants, onthe road, with heaven above and the road below.
In his poem, he is addressing (speaking to) god.
Stevenson, as a poet, appeals and desires to have the kind of lifestyle that he loves, to let the lave: to wash; bathe, to flow along or against as if washing. He desires only the jolly heaven above and the dry bread where he can dip it in the waters of the river to eat whenever hungry. For there is a life for a man like him and there is the life forever. Let the blow of death fall on him soon or late and whatever will be over him will be. A little more that he needs is the face of the earth around and the road before him. He does not seek wealth, hope nor, love nor any friend to know him, but all he seeks is the heaven above and the road below him.
Or let the autumn: here signifying the beginning of old age: fall on him, where afield: in or to the field, away abroad, off the track, astray: he lingers, where the cold autumn wind silences the bird on the tree, while he bites the cold blue finger. The frosty field is as white as meal and the fire-side haven is quite warm. But for him, not to autumn will he yield and not to winter even. He is prepared for death anytime it comes, and the destiny of his fate. The world is big enough for his home and the road before him he will tread. He does not desire the materialism of this world nor a friend to share such worldly fortune. All he wishes for is a place in heaven and the road below him that he must tread in order to reach there.
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