What is the central idea of the poem "The Ballad Of Father Gilligan"?Please describe the central idea in 150 to 200 words.

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think this excellent poem presents us with a priest who is at the end of his tether and absolutely exhausted. It appears that the cause of his intense spritual and physical weariness is the fact that:

For half his flock were in their beds

Or under green sods lay.

The way in which so many of his flock have died recently or are sick causes him great oppression, and his sadness and feelings of intense desolation are expressed when his "body" speaks and not "his soul" when he says:

"I have no rest, nor joy, nor peace,

For people die and die..."

In exhaustion, Father Gilligan falls asleep and receives rest, but awakes only to find that another one of his flock has died in the interim. He rushes off to the house, and is overwhelmed by grief and sadness once again, thinking that he has betrayed his duty in letting one of his flock die without him. However, as the man's wife relates how the man died "as merry as a bird," Father Gilligan recognises how God has taken pity on him and has helped this man to die whilst Father Gilligan was having a well-needed rest. Note the last stanza of the poem that seems to summarise the central theme:

"He Who is wrapped in purple robes,

With planets in His care,

Had pity on the least of things,

Asleep upon a chair."

God's provision for all of his creatures and how he understands and hears our heart's cry seems to be the main theme. Father Gilligan is made to understand that he is not supposed to take the worries of the world on his shoulders alone. God is there to help him.

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architashini | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

the poem is a ballad which tells us the story of a ooor old priest who does his duty towards God very sincerely. Father Gilligan gets tired after day's work and falls asleep in the chair. Just then he recieves a maessage from a dying man who wanys his help. he feels unhappy and says that people dont let him take rest. He does not go to the dying man's house. He realises his mistake and feels sorry. AS he sits up in the chair he falls asleep when he gets up in the morning he realises his mistake and at once rides on his horse and reaches te sik man's house . he is startled to know that te man has died only after he was attended to by him. the priest that god must have sent his messenger on the earth to act on his behalf. the poet wants to convey that god is merciful to all and particularly to those who do their duty sincerely. he comes to everyone's rescue.                                                                                          

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