Oliver Goldsmith was an Irish writer and poet who worked in the 1700s. One of his most notable works was The Deserted Village, a poem that critiques rural depopulation and unlimited pursuit of wealth.
Oliver Goldsmith was also the great-uncle of Oliver Goldsmith, a Canadian poet who worked in the 1800s. One of his most notable works was The Rising Village: A Poem, a response to his great-uncle's well-known poem.
This interesting poetic diptych can obviously be considered in different ways. Perhaps the most general overview would be to say that the earlier poem takes a pessimistic approach, while the latter work is far more optimistic.
Another obvious take is to note that, since it is a response, The Rising Village would never have existed without The Deserted Village. That said, a deserted village would have needed to rise in the first place, although this episode is omitted from the discussion of these two poems. Rather, The Deserted Village takes more of a position that the village's golden age had gone on forever up until the time of the decline.
Stumbling across this curious pair of poems I thought they had the makings of some painting subjects...
At one time. (or perhaps in the future, who knows?) I might have been inspired to sit down and literally paint a deserted Irish or English village and then a companion piece of a thriving up-and-coming pioneer town in 19th-C Canada.
But, at the moment, I was more of a mind to express some of the feelings evoked by the poetry and the result was a pair of abstract paintings.
I called the first one "Shadow Village". It is a 24" x 48" acrylic on canvas and it has been sold.
At present I am offering it in a 14" x 28" Masterstrokes canvas print format. These
are premium quality, limited edition, numbered prints on stretched canvas that I hand-sign and embellish myself in my studio. I actually add touches of paint and artists embellishing medium to these prints, so they are legitimately one-of-a-kind pieces of art. Other sizes are also available so please inquire.
One passage of the Deserted Village that evokes images for me is the following:
"...Near yonder thorn, that lifts its head on high, Where once the sign-post caught the passing eye, Now lies that house where nut-brown draughts inspired, Where grey-beard mirth and smiling toil retired, Where village statesmen talk'd with looks profound, And news much older than their ale went round. Imagination fondly stoops to trace..."
The second painting I created I named "Village Echoes".
This is also an acrylic palette knife painting done on a large 24" x 48" canvas, this one a deep, 1-1/2-inch gallery-style format.
The younger Goldsmith paints a fearsome portrait of the dangerous new lands in the New World but with a more optimistic turn, as brave and industrious pioneers secure their families' futures.
"...Yet, though these threat'ning dangers round him roll, Perplex his thoughts, and agitate his soul, By patient firmness and industrious toil, He still retains possession of the soil; Around his dwelling scatter'd huts extend,105
Whilst ev'ry hut affords another friend. And now, behold! his bold aggressors fly, To seek their prey beneath some other sky;..."