Poem: The Vagabond by R.L Stevenson What is the overall tone of the poem? Pick out phrases to create this tone.   THE VAGABOND: Give to me the life I love,Let the lave go by me,Give the jolly heaven aboveAnd the byway nigh me.Bed in the bush with stars to see,Bread I dip in the river -There's the life for a man like me,There's the life for ever.Let the blow fall soon or late,Let what will be o'er me;Give the face of earth aroundAnd the road before me.Wealth I seek not, hope nor love,Nor a friend to know me;All I seek, the heaven aboveAnd the road below me.Or let autumn fall on meWhere afield I linger,Silencing the bird on tree,Biting the blue finger.White as meal the frosty field -Warm the fireside haven -Not to autumn will I yield,Not to winter even!Let the blow fall soon or late,Let what will be o'er me;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 aboveAnd the road below me. 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Robert Louis Stevenson's poem "The Vagabond" represents the kind of life that the poet would love to live.  All the narrator wants is to live a natural life filled with the heavens, the land, the birds, and the river.  A vagabond is a traveler, and this poem describes a man filled with wanderlust for the open road.  It is interesting to note that the poem was intended to be sung to a melody by Schubert.

Stevenson's poem depicts the man in search of his perfect life.  This vagabond would not seek wealth, hope nor an friend to know hime, just a life of solitude and nature around him.

The tone of a poem is the attitude experienced as the poem is read.  It also is the writer's stance toward the subject or audience.  The tone in a poem can be playful, humorous, anything--and it can change throughout the poem.  Usually, the "vibes" that the reader feels as he reads the poem are the tone of the poem.

In this poem,  Stevenson's mood is tinged with desire, energy, and excitement.

  • The narrator desires a life that is free from the burdens of worldy good, "Wealth I seek not..."
  • He interjects that he cares not that he will be without friends or any of the things that most men crave: "...hope nor love, Nor a friend to know me."
  • His enthusiasm about his yearnings appeals to anyone who loves the outdoors, sleeping on the beach, and listening to the sounds of nature: "Bed in the bush with stars to see..."
  • Taking an unusual attidue toward death, Stevenson does not care when it comes for him because he is prepared so well that he repeats his feelings twice:

             Let the blow fall soon or late,                           

             Let what will be o'er me.

What fun it is to follow the yearnings of the poet as he hungers for only, "the heaven above and the road below." Capturing the imagination, Stevenson takes the reader to places he has not dreamed about before.


Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial