"Auburn" in Goldsmith's The deserted village: possible Gallic overtones?

Author/Creator ORCID




Towson University. Department of English


Citation of Original Publication

Hahn, H. George. "'Auburn' in Goldsmith's The Deserted Village: Possible Gallic overtones?" CLA Journal, vol. 22, no. 2, 1978, pp. 147-150. https://www.jstor.org/stable/44325051



[From article]: The deserted village of Goldsmith’s 1770 poem has proved to be a lost village as well, for scholars have been unable to find an exact location for it. Many identify Auburn with the poet’s home of Lissoy in Ireland. Professor Friedman allows that the name may have been suggested by a town in Wiltshire. Others believe it to be an English village important more as a type than as a specific place. And Professor Wardle thinks the name and location to be irrelevant because Goldsmith probably conceived the place as a composite of his boyhood memories and his later observations of English villages. Whatever Auburn’s location, Goldsmith was no doubt mainly concerned with providing an emblem in The Deserted Village of a once idyllic place now forever abandoned that could also contrast with the horrific implications of life in the city and in America later in the poem. Whether Irish, English, or irrelevant on the map, in the poem, Auburn embodies Goldsmith’s explicit theme, stressed in his prefatory letter to Reynolds. That theme is the depopulation of the countryside, shown by history and the poem alike to be the result of the displacement of the poor from rural areas by wealthy landowners who wished to improve and expand their own farms, parks, and hunting preserves. In the letter, Goldsmith claims both to inveigh against this cause and to regret its effect. To augment his theme, I would suggest, Goldsmith may have selected the name Auburn for its rich and subtle merging of Gallic sound and sense.