The Deserted Village "Still They Gazed, And Still The Wonder Grew"
by Oliver Goldsmith

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"Still They Gazed, And Still The Wonder Grew"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In this poem, Goldsmith gives, in his imaginary village of Auburn, an idealized picture of the simple and happy life of rural England before the Enclosure Act and the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution had driven the peasantry either to the cities or to America. In describing the village worthies, Goldsmith, like Gray, in his "Elegy in a Country Churchyard" (1751), lays stress upon the virtues of simple people, and thus he foreshadows the ideas of the Romantic poets of a generation later. One of these worthies is the village schoolmaster, who could write and cipher, measure land; furthermore:

In arguing too, the parson own'd his skill,
For e'en though vanguish'd, he could argue still;
While words of learned length and thund'ring sound,
Amazed the gazing rustics rang'd around,
And still they gaz'd, and still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew.