Ruth

Ruth

by Thomas Hood

She stood breast high amid the corn,
Clasped by the golden light of morn,
Like the sweetheart of the sun,
Who many a glowing kiss had won.

On her cheek an autumn flush,
Deeply ripened;—such a blush
In the midst of brown was born,
Like red poppies grown with corn.

Round her eyes her tresses fell,
Which were blackest none could tell,
But long lashes veiled a light,
That had else been all too bright.

And her hat, with shady brim,
Made her tressy forehead dim;—
Thus she stood amid the stooks,
Praising God with sweetest looks:—

Sure, I said, heaven did not mean,
Where I reap thou shouldst but glean,
Lay thy sheaf adown and come,
Share my harvest and my home.

Literary Analysis

The central conceit of the poem “Ruth” is a romantic picture of a lady painted by Thomas Hood in such a way that she seems to be standing before our very eyes. The themes of devotion, kindness, being good to others, and care have been intertwined with love for the lady. It is not clear from any source whom the woman was, but several painters of a later period painted very beautiful paintings after they were inspired by this figure of Ruth.

Many people think the title of the poem alludes to the Biblical Ruth, but the true inspiration of the poem was not this figure. The muse was from the Romantic period, described as working in the fields in the autumn season. Her beauty surpasses the environmental beauty, as her body is “clasped by the golden light of the morn” and her cheek has an “autumn flush.” The poet then comments on her hair and eyes. However, when he reaches the lashes which “veiled a light,” it seems that he has surpassed all of his previous comments. Her lashes conceal her eyes “That had else been too bright.” However, the most beautiful thing is that she was praising the Creator and His creativity with her “sweetest looks.” The speaker was so impressed by her beauty that he immediately correlated his praise with an offer to her to share his own home and harvest in return for her praise to God.

In fact, the final stanza throws light on the devotion of the speaker for this woman of God. When he hears her praise for God despite living in poverty, the poet immediately responds saying, “heaven did not mean, / where I reap thou shouldst glean,” and then offers her to “lay thy sheaf adown and come, / share my harvest and my home,” which is an extreme form of love, generosity, and large-heartedness.

The speaker praises the woman’s looks, her beauty, her face, her dress, and even her presence in the first four stanzas. When he reaches the fifth stanza, however, he immediately comes down from the height of sensuousness that he was about to reach, and starts praising the beauty and work of God, giving her what God has given to him. This is the real beauty that he has understood through her physical beauty.

Structural Analysis

The poem contains five stanzas, and each stanza consists of four lines. The rhyme scheme is regular and rhythmical, and remains the same in the entire poem. We can see that the rhyme scheme is AABB, such as in the first stanza:

She stood breast high amid the corn, A
Clasped by the golden light of morn,  A
Like the sweetheart of the sun, B
Who many a glowing kiss had won. B

There is no internal rhyme. The poem is written in trochaic tetrameter Round her eyes her tresses fell, / Which were blackest none could tell.” Enjambment is used almost in the entire poem such asAnd her hat, with shady brim, / Made her tressy forehead dim.” These pauses create curiosity and draw the reader’s attention to the beauty of the lady and the desire of the poet. End-rhyme comes at the end of each stanza.

The diction of the poem is figurative, with similes such as “In the midst of brown was born,/ Like red poppies grown with corn,” where the poet compares the beautiful red cheeks of Ruth to red poppies. Hyperbaton is also employed, which is an unusual word order of the sentence, such as, “Round her eyes her tresses fell.” This creates a startling effect for the readers.

Guidance for Usage of Quotes

A very strange interpretation of the poem “Ruth” could be that it is a dedication from the poet to his mother, who managed to raise him and look after her mother-in-law without her husband who passed away several years prior. However, this cannot be confined to mothers only. It could be dedicated to any beautiful woman, including mothers or lovers, such as these lines:

“On her cheek an autumn flush,
Deeply ripened;—such a blush
In the midst of brown was born,
Like red poppies grown with corn.”

Also, regarding the confidence and beauty of their beloveds, this quote can be used:

And her hat, with shady brim,
Made her tressy forehead dim;—
Thus she stood amid the stooks,
Praising God with sweetest looks:—

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share Your Examples