The Deserted Village by Oliver Goldsmith

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Summary

One cannot produce a summary of the poem per se, because it does not really have a plot. It begins with a description of the once-lovely village's former charms, including characterizations of specific people and their interactions. It then proceeds to describe the "man of wealth and pride" who is responsible for the village's desolation, chastising him for his enjoyment of the resources "extorted from his fellow-creature's woe." The speaker explains how this man is responsible for forcing the village's inhabitants to go abroad to "distant climes" that are full of horrors in order to survive. He describes the process of their farewell. The poem concludes with the speaker expanding into a broader characterization of how the desire for wealth is destroying the good things in the world, as people come to value things that have no true worth and will ultimately decay.