Farewell to Barn and Stack and Tree Poem Summary

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By Talk Scouts

This poem was composed by A.E. Houseman. He was born in 1859 and died in 1936. This poem was written in the form of a pastoral poem because it has the features of the rural agricultural life of the common man. It was extracted from the Anthology ‘A Shropshire lad’ which has B poems. This poem is based on the common working man. The narrator is “I” or the poet A.E. Houseman. He narrates a domestic or a family conflict. It is a crime done by the narrator. His girlfriend is unfaithful to him. She falls in love with his brother too. When it is revealed the narrator stubs his brother with his own knife and kills him. This girl’s false love make him kill his own brother on a sudden impulse. So the theme of this poem is the untimely death of a person due to a sudden temper or impulsive actions. It is a universal theme, based on domestic conflict or violence. The subject matter is ” Killing of a brother”. The narrator is repeating and confessing. He acted under a sudden temper. He narrates everything to a listener named ‘Terance’. He may be a friend or a farmhand.

The speaker says goodbye to ‘Terance’ and the things, places he lived with. The language is simple, colloquial and dramatic ( a narrative language). A barn is a place where harvest or hay is stored for later uses. Stack is a rick or a heap of harvest or straw. The tree brings the image of shelter, shade and or a resting place perhaps a grave. So this poem has a Christian background. Also, the poet reveals his emotional breakdown throughout the poem. He finds relief by telling his fault, Terrance. He is guilty of colours. He hides farewell to his friend and the things on the farm. The repeated word “farewell” stresses his bond with his home and garden and family.

The first stanza shows that he has no idea of going away, but his crime compels him to do so. The whole poem reflects his psychological conflict. He assures his leaving and never return to see all that he associated. The half Mown hill reminds the work unfinished or half done. He narrates everything as a cinematic picture. ” half mown hill, blood dried, Maurice lies still, Knife in his side. These things highlight the horror and violence of his crime. Also, they are creating sympathy. The third stanza shows his attachment to his mother and brother. “My mother thinks us long away, she had two sons at rising day, tonight she’ll be alone.” These lines show desperation. The narrator is terribly agitated. Mother’s world has been lost and devastated. “And oh man here’s goodbye” this also shows his agitation.

In the fourth stanza, he realizes his fault. “A bloody hand” is a sinner’s hand. He will not work again with the tools.” we’ll sweat no more on the scythe and rike.” It shows his detachment from his pastoral life. The fifth stanza is the wishes of the speaker to Terance “I wish you strength to bring you pride, And a love to keep you clean.” The speaker wishes him to enjoy the pride of having a true love or a girlfriend. Then he’ll not fall into such kind of shame and insult. His dignity and pride have been lost due to a treacherous girl. Not only that he lost his brother, mother and his peaceful family life. He wishes Terance to have ‘Lammastide’. It is also a sky festival held on August 1st. He implies the merriment and festivity in Terrance’s life “Racing in the green”.

Finally, he visualizes his attachment to the pastoral life. He is leaving and misses his rick, fold, animals, empty plate and dinner. They all will long for his arrival. It is a poignant occasion. This situation creates sympathy and empathy in the reader.