Student Question

Can you explicate the poem "The Golf Link"?

Expert Answers

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It would certainly be helpful if you could supply the author, the actual title of the work, and the type of work (novel, short story, poem, etc.) in your question, That way, it would be easier for you to get a good, reliable answer.

Let me assume that the work you are referring to is "The Golf Links" by Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn:

The Golf Links

The golf links lie so near the mill

That almost every day

The laboring children can look out

And see the men at play.

If this is the work in question, then here is an explanation:

Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn is an early twentieth century poet known for writing very short poems that have progressive socialist themes. That is, they have a message that criticizes or furthers certain practices of American society.

This poem, her most famous, is a scathing commentary on child labor, and it was written before the enactment of child labor laws. (The first law regulating child labor in American was not enacted until 1924, but few states ratified it. Real regulation didn't come into effect until the late 1930s)

The poem talks about children who work in a mill. Maybe a steel mill, or a lumber mill, or a textile mill. It doesn't matter. What matters is that these children toil away, and they can see, from where they work, men playing golf on the golf course not far from the mill.

The ironic message is obvious and stark: children, who should be playing, are working, while men, who should be working, are at play. Indeed these men may well be the tycoons who own the mill where the children work.

Simplistic idea? Yes. A call for reform, for laws to protect these children? Of course.

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