The Deserted Village "The Loud Laugh That Spoke The Vacant Mind"
by Oliver Goldsmith

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"The Loud Laugh That Spoke The Vacant Mind"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In the happier days of Auburn, the village of the poem, the people lived wholesomely, gaining from their labor only what life required. The countryman's best companions were "innocence and health; / And his best riches, ignorance of wealth./ But times are alter'd; trade's unfeeling train/ Usurp the land and dispossess the swain." The poet then moves on to a recollection of the happy sounds of evening in those earlier days:

The mingling notes came soften'd from below;
The swain responsive as the milk-maid sung,
The sober herd that low'd to meet their young;
The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool,
The playful children just let loose from school;
The watchdog's voice that bay'd the whisp'ring wind,
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind;
These all in sweet confusion sought the shade,
And fill'd each pause the nightingale had made.