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A Satirical Elegy Analysis

Author: Poetry of Jonathan Swift Type: Poetry Views: 2270

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The Works1726On the Death of a Late FAMOUS GENERALHis Grace! impossible! what dead!

Of old age, too, and in his bed!

And could that Mighty Warrior fall?

And so inglorious, after all!

Well, since he's gone, no matter how,

The last loud trump must wake him now:

And, trust me, as the noise grows stronger,

He'd wish to sleep a little longer.

And could he be indeed so old

As by the news-papers we're told?

Threescore, I think, is pretty high;

'Twas time in conscience he should die.

This world he cumber'd long enough;

He burnt his candle to the snuff;

And that's the reason, some folks think,

He left behind so great a stink.

Behold his funeral appears,

Nor widow's sighs, nor orphan's tears,

Wont at such times each heart to pierce,

Attend the progress of his hearse.

But what of that, his friends may say,

He had those honours in his day.

True to his profit and his pride,

He made them weep before he dy'd.Come hither, all ye empty things,

Ye bubbles rais'd by breath of Kings;

Who float upon the tide of state,

Come hither, and behold your fate.

Let pride be taught by this rebuke,

How very mean a thing's a Duke;

From all his ill-got honours flung,

Turn'd to that dirt from whence he sprung.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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Oh god someone help me I have a deadline and don't understand this shit oh god help me x

| Posted on 2017-02-09 | by a guest

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I need help with this poem, can you tell me the form, structure and theme of this poem because I cannot find it anywhere.
Thank you.

| Posted on 2012-12-11 | by a guest

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When I studied this poem at secondary school it was put by my English teacher that the \"late famous general\" in question was Marlborough. Certainly the age corresponds as does Swift\'s vitriolic pamphlet attacks on and the controversy surrounding the Duke.
I still chuckle when I remember:

\"He burnt his candle to the snuff;
And that\'s the reason, some folks think,
He left behind so great a stink.\"
I can think of several \"Great People\" of our time to whom that applies.

| Posted on 2012-06-02 | by a guest

.: :.

This poem is about the General who has overstayed his life on earth, he cares little for others and the soldiers that have died under his command. Yet, he seems to be more concern about his earnings and pride. And that's why no orphans or widows cry.

| Posted on 2010-05-09 | by a guest

.: Notes you may find useful :.

An elegy is a farewell to the dead, however Swift's poem is certainly short of sympathy and 'A satricial elegy on the death of a late famous General' is not your traditional 'lament'.

Swift uses sarcasm and a mocking tone at the General's late but much awaited death describing him with an ironic epithet - 'mighty warrior'.

The speaker thinks it was inappropriate for the General to live so long 'Threescore, I think, is pretty high;' and their is an undertone of critism that he died in bed, not battle, unlike all the poor soldiers that he probably sent to their deaths.

At the start of the poem, the exclamatories in the first couplet give an element of mock horror which is both sarcastic and humerous.

Swift uses interesting metaphors -
'He burnt his candle to the snuff;...He left behind so great a stink.' which describes the General as living a full and self-centred life - living right to the end, just like the light from the candle burning right through. The 'stink' could represent the unpleasant atmosphere which was left behind once he had died, just like the smoke from the candle.

Another metaphor which Swift uses is -
'Ye bubbles rais'd by breath of kings!
Who float upon the tide of state;'
This metaphor compares the General to a bubble, insubstantial and ephemeral created by the king (blown by the kings breath = the king bestowing titles upon people) The General does nothing for his title and instead cares about little else other than his earnings.

| Posted on 2007-05-21 | by a guest

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The word "Late" in the title is ambigious. Does he mean late as in dead or late as in only recently famous?

It seems that this man cared only for profit snd reputation. He possibly sent or led many to their so called "glorious" deaths in war. In contrast, Swift suggests that the general's death is "inglorious" and that it was inappropriate for this vain and selfish man to live for so long.

The last part of the poem is a moral message which lets us see what will happen to people who are shallow and uncaring.

The concrete noun, "dirt" in the last line is an interesting take on "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" with its connotations of filth.

| Posted on 2006-01-19 | by Approved Guest

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