In the poem "The Man with a Hoe," what does God intend him to be?

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teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In the poem "The Man With A Hoe," Edwin Markham presents to his readers the pitiful state of the oppressed workingman, more animal than dignified human. 'Bowed by the weight of centuries,' the exhausted farmer is 'dead to rapture and despair,/ A thing that grieves not and that never hopes.'

In the poem, this farmer is referred to as a 'Thing.' His labors and burdens have dehumanized him to the point that he has become a caricature of everything God had intended him to be.

Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave/ To have dominion over sea and land;/ To trace the stars and search the heavens for power;/ To feel the passion of Eternity?/ Is this the Dream He dreamed who shaped the suns/ And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?

From the poem, Markham is trying to tell us that God originally intended the farmer to be a powerful human being, one with supremacy and control over the sea and the land. This farmer was meant to live fully ('to feel the passion of Eternity') and to search out the mysteries of the stars and the universe. The poet laments that, instead, the farmer is living the wrong 'Dream;' he is betrayed by faceless 'masters, lords and rulers in all lands' who have 'Plundered, profaned, and disinherited' him from his true heritage.

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