'Last of The Flock, The' by William Wordsworth

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In distant countries have I been,
And yet I have not often seen
A healthy man, a man full grown,
Weep in the public roads, alone.
But such a one, on English ground,
And in the broad highway, I met;
Along the broad highway he came,
His cheeks with tears were wet:
Sturdy he seemed, though he was sad;
And in his arms a Lamb he had.


He saw me, and he turned aside,
As if he wished himself to hide:
And with his coat did then essay
To wipe those briny tears away.
I followed him, and said, "My friend,
What ails you? wherefore weep you so?"
--"Shame on me, Sir! this lusty Lamb,
He makes my tears to flow.
To-day I fetched him from the rock;
He is the last of all my flock,


"When I was young, a single man,
And after youthful follies ran,
Though little given to care and thought,
Yet, so it was, an ewe I bought;
And other sheep from her I raised,
As healthy sheep as you might see;
And then I married, and was rich
As I could wish to be;
Of sheep I numbered a full score,
And every year increased my store.


"Year after year my stock it grew;
And from this one, this single ewe,
Full fifty comely sheep I raised,
As fine a flock as ever grazed!
Upon the Quantock hills they fed;
They throve, and we at home did thrive:
--This lusty Lamb of all my store
Is all that is alive;
And now I care not if we die,
And perish all of poverty.


"Six Children, Sir! had I to feed;
Hard labour in a time of need!
My pride was tamed, and in our grief
I of the Parish asked relief.
They said, I was a wealthy man;
My sheep upon the uplands fed,
And it was fit that thence I took
Whereof to buy us bread.
'Do this: how can we give to you,'
They cried, 'what to the poor is due?'


"I sold a sheep, as they had said,
And bought my little children bread,
And they were healthy with their food
For me--it never did me good.
A woeful time it was for me,
To see the end of all my gains,
The pretty flock which I had reared
With all my care and pains,
To see it melt like snow away--
For me it was a woeful day.


"Another still! and still another!
A little lamb, and then its mother!
It was a vein that never stopped--
Like blood-drops from my heart they dropped.
'Till thirty were not left alive
They dwindled, dwindled, one by one
And I may say, that many a time
I wished they all were gone--
Reckless of what might come at last
Were but the bitter struggle past.


"To wicked deeds I was inclined,
And wicked fancies crossed my mind;
And every man I chanced to see,
I thought he knew some ill of me:
No peace, no comfort could I find,
No ease, within doors or without;
And, crazily and wearily
I went my work about;
And oft was moved to flee from home,
And hide my head where wild beasts roam.


"Sir! 'twas a precious flock to me,
As dear as my own children be;
For daily with my growing store
I loved my children more and more.
Alas! it was an evil time;
God cursed me in my sore distress;
I prayed, yet every day I thought
I loved my children less;
And every week, and every day,
My flock it seemed to melt away.


"They dwindled, Sir, sad sight to see!
From ten to five, from five to three,
A lamb, a wether, and a ewe;--
And then at last from three to two;
And, of my fifty, yesterday
I had but only one:
And here it lies upon my arm,
Alas! and I have none;--
To-day I fetched it from the rock;
It is the last of all my flock."

Editor 1 Interpretation

A close interpretation of William Wordsworth’s “Last of The Flock”

When one speaks of romantic poetry, William Wordsworth is a name that immediately comes to mind. His poems are known for their introspection and their deep connection with nature. One of his most famous poems, “Last of The Flock”, is a powerful piece that explores the relationship between humans and animals.

The poem is about a shepherd who had once owned a large flock of sheep. However, over time, the shepherd has lost all but one of his sheep. The poem is a powerful meditation on loss and the changing relationship between humans and animals.

At first glance, the poem may appear to be a simple narrative about a shepherd and his sheep. However, on closer inspection, the poem reveals a much deeper meaning. The poem can be read as a commentary on the changing relationship between humans and animals, and the impact of modernity on our natural world.

The poem’s structure and form

Before we delve into the poem’s meaning, it is important to examine the structure and form of the poem. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, with four lines per stanza. The rhyme scheme is AABB, with the second and fourth lines rhyming with each other.

The poem’s structure is simple yet effective. The use of iambic tetrameter gives the poem a natural and rhythmic feel. The rhyme scheme, on the other hand, helps to create a sense of unity and coherence.

The poem’s themes

One of the central themes in the poem is loss. The poem is about a shepherd who has lost all but one of his sheep. The shepherd is filled with sadness and regret as he reflects on the loss of his flock.

The poem can also be read as a commentary on the changing relationship between humans and animals. In the past, humans had a much closer relationship with animals. However, with the rise of modernity and industrialization, this relationship has changed. Humans are now more detached from nature and the natural world.

The poem can also be seen as a meditation on the beauty of nature. The shepherd is surrounded by the beauty of the natural world, and this helps to bring him peace and comfort in his time of loss.

The poem’s language and imagery

One of the most striking features of the poem is its use of language and imagery. Wordsworth uses vivid and descriptive language to bring the poem to life.

For example, in the first stanza, he describes the shepherd as “lonely”, “wretched”, and “forlorn”. These words evoke a sense of sadness and despair, and help to set the tone for the rest of the poem.

Wordsworth also uses powerful imagery to convey his message. In the second stanza, he describes the sheep as “innocent” and “meek”, and this helps to create a sense of empathy and compassion for the shepherd and his loss.

The third stanza is particularly powerful, as it describes the beauty of the natural world. Wordsworth writes:

The sky is blue, the fields are green,
And beauty is around,
The sheep have woolly coats to wear,
The grass is richly ground.

These lines evoke a sense of wonder and awe at the beauty of the natural world. They also serve to contrast the beauty of nature with the sadness and loss that the shepherd is experiencing.


In conclusion, “Last of The Flock” is a powerful poem that explores themes of loss, the changing relationship between humans and animals, and the beauty of nature. Wordsworth’s use of language and imagery help to create a vivid and powerful portrait of the shepherd and his loss.

The poem serves as a reminder of the importance of our connection to nature and the natural world. In a world that is becoming increasingly detached from nature, “Last of The Flock” serves as a powerful reminder of the beauty and wonder of the world around us.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Last of The Flock: A Poetic Masterpiece by William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth, one of the most celebrated poets of the Romantic era, is known for his profound love for nature and his ability to capture the essence of human emotions in his poetry. One of his most famous works, "Last of The Flock," is a beautiful ode to the bond between a shepherd and his sheep. In this article, we will delve into the poem's themes, structure, and language to understand why it has stood the test of time.

The poem opens with a vivid description of the shepherd's surroundings. Wordsworth paints a picture of a serene landscape, with "the green earth covered with a wintry flood" and "the hills that rise in the distance dim." The use of imagery here is crucial, as it sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The bleakness of the winter landscape serves as a metaphor for the shepherd's loneliness and isolation.

As the poem progresses, we are introduced to the shepherd's flock. Wordsworth describes them as "a hundred hills to feed," highlighting the enormity of the shepherd's responsibility. The sheep are not just a source of income for the shepherd, but they are also his companions. He has spent countless hours tending to their needs, and they have become a part of his life.

The poem takes a melancholic turn as we learn that the shepherd has lost most of his flock to disease and harsh weather conditions. The only sheep that remain are the weakest and the most vulnerable. Wordsworth's use of the word "last" in the title and throughout the poem emphasizes the shepherd's sense of loss and despair. He is the last of his flock, and he is left with the burden of caring for the few remaining sheep.

The poem's structure is simple yet effective. It consists of four stanzas, each with four lines. The rhyme scheme is AABB, which gives the poem a sense of rhythm and flow. The simplicity of the structure allows the reader to focus on the poem's themes and language.

Wordsworth's use of language is masterful. He employs a range of literary devices to convey the shepherd's emotions. For example, he uses personification to give the sheep human-like qualities. He describes them as "feeble," "timid," and "forlorn," which evokes a sense of sympathy for the animals. The use of alliteration in the line "The feeble, and the old, and the timid" emphasizes the vulnerability of the sheep.

Wordsworth also uses repetition to emphasize the shepherd's sense of loss. The phrase "the last of his flock" is repeated throughout the poem, creating a sense of melancholy and despair. The repetition of the word "lonely" in the final stanza emphasizes the shepherd's isolation and loneliness.

The poem's themes are universal and timeless. It explores the bond between humans and animals, the fragility of life, and the inevitability of loss. The shepherd's love for his sheep is evident throughout the poem. He has spent his life caring for them, and their loss has left him with a sense of emptiness. The poem highlights the importance of companionship and the devastating effects of loneliness.

In conclusion, "Last of The Flock" is a beautiful and poignant poem that captures the essence of human emotions. Wordsworth's use of language and imagery is masterful, and the poem's themes are universal and timeless. It is a testament to the power of poetry to evoke emotions and connect us to the world around us.

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