How can I write a critical summary about the poem 'The Vagabond' by Robert Louis Stevenson?Please help me write my summary about the poem.  

Expert Answers
coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In a critical summary you must crtique the poem as you summarise it. So, always always start with the title and how it tells about the theme and how it's relevant,briefly, to the life of the poet.

Move through the poem a couple of lines at a time, noting how the poet uses form, structure, technique,assonance,alliteration,rhyme, rhythm and all the other devices you have been taught about so far.

Make sure you know the exact definition of the word 'vagabond.' Some people think it means ruffian, but here Stevenson is using to mean nomadic traveller, or in old-fashioned words 'tramp' or in America the less polite 'bum!'

Summarise the 'storyline' or action and how it is helped by the poet's use of the above techniques. The repetition and rhythm makes this poem more like the beginning of a song.

There is no need to summarise the poem on here, it is quite a simple poem, but come back here for more help if you get stuck on that.

Use the poet's bio to give you insights into his message and meaning in the poem.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A critical summary should have two parts, and they both are important. The first part should summary the work succinctly. Just give the main points of the work, and perhaps a quote or two to give the reader a sense of the poem and the tone of the poem. Keep in mind that this is not easy. You need to know the poem fairly well to do this. Also, try to give an "objective" account. Leave out adjectives, for example.

The second part is what you think about the poem. You can write something about why you liked it or disliked it. However, keep in mind that you also need to give reasons. The more cogent and well written the reasons, the better the review will be. If you could situate this work in a larger context, even better.

I will attach a review that I did as an example, just click the first web address. Good luck!

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.

Read the study guide:
The Vagabond

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