Summarize the last stanza of the poem "The Vagabond".How has the meaning changed by changing "seek" in the second stanza into "ask" in the fourth stanza?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The previous post was quite strong.  I would only like to add that there might be a bit more of conditionality implied in the changing of verbs.  In the second stanza, there is a slight tone of defiance and complete austerity. It is at this point where the speaker is convinced of his condition and within its certainty, his resolve lies.  He challenges the natural elements in the third stanza, which is a continuation of the ideas brought out in the second stanza of "seek."  This brings to light the image that the vagabond is either searching for something directly, as in to "seek out."  In the last stanza, it might be as if the speaker has endured the conditions and all that they have to offer.  Within this, there might be a note of weariness.  It is not overwhelming, but a faint trace might be there.  Within this could be the idea of "asking," as if to help alleviate the conditions placed upon the vagabond. Perhaps, the change in words between the second and last stanza could indicate the challenges faced by the individual.

coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The last stanza of the poem 'The Vagabond' by Robert Louis Stevensen deals with the idea of waning independence. In the first three stanzas, the tramp is hale and hearty, young and strong and capable of being out in all weathers - even Autumn and Winter as it turns frosty. If he has no wealth, or friends for that matter, it is through choice - his choice. He chooses not to seek those things, even though he has the ability. In the last stanza,however, he is looking forwards to old age- he is looking to a time when that choice is no longer there and only available if it is given to him as a gift (for example from God.) He still says, however, that even if it is available, he will not pray for wealth, choosing rather to die on the lonely road of independence.

lit24 | Student

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.

In the last stanza R.L. Stevenson reiterates what he has already emphasized in the earlier three stanzas, namely, all that he wants to do throughout his life is to travel and to travel till he drops dead.

In the second stanza the verb "seek" would mean 'to endeavor to obtain.' The action is voluntary, conscious and deliberate. He says that all that he will endeavor to obtain is a life of travel and travel only.

Whereas, in the last stanza "ask" would imply a prayer to God. All that he asks of or requests God is to give him a life of travel and travel only.