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“Laugh and Be Merry” is a poem written by John Masefield. It was first published in the poetry collection “Ballads” in 1903. The poem is an advice to the readers by the poet. Through the poem, the poet tries to teach the reader to enjoy life and experience it to the fullest.
The poem talks about life as a stay at an “inn”, where everyone should enjoy their time and laugh instead of worrying or crying. The poet tells the readers through this poem that they should enjoy their life as an adventure. The poet emphasizes on the fact that every moment of life is filled with God’s grace and mirth and thus one should respect and enjoy it.
About the poet
John Edward Masefield was born in 1878 in the United Kingdom. He was an English poet and writer. He was lauded with the position of Poet Laureate from 1930 to 1967. He published numerous works during his lifetime. Some of his famous works included “The Midnight Folk” and “The Box of Delights” which were children’s novels. He also published many famous poems and poetry collections including “The Everlasting Mercy” and “Sea-Fever”.
The poem consists of 16 lines in total. It is divided into 4 quatrains. A quatrain is a stanza that consists of 4 lines each.
Laugh and be merry, remember, better the world with a song, Better the world with a blow in the teeth of a wrong. Laugh, for the time is brief, a thread the length of a span. Laugh and be proud to belong to the old proud pageant of man.
The poem begins by the speaker advising the reader to laugh and be happy. He says that one should make the world a better place by singing a song of joy and happiness. The speaker says that another way to make the world a better place is to blow in the teeth of the wrongs committed in the world. The speaker again tells the reader to laugh and be happy because life is short. The time flies away fast. The speaker says that the lifetime of an individual is as small as the span of a thread. Thus the speaker tells the reader to be happy and feel the pride in being born a man.
The poet begins the stanza by advising the reader to “laugh and be merry”. He wants the reader to be happy and enjoy their life. He follows this advice with the word “remember” to emphasize on the ways to always be happy. He says that one should always strive to make the world a better place for everyone else. The poet tells the reader to make the world better by singing a “song”. Here “song” stands fro love and humanity. The poet wants the reader to be compassionate to everyone around them and spread love. The poet says that the other way to live happily and create a better world is to “blow in the teeth of a wrong”. Here the poet means to stand firm against wrongdoings and speak up when something wrong is happening around them.
According to the poet, life is short and thus one should make the most of it by being happy. He compares the time span of life to the length of a tread. The poet also asks the readers to be happy as a tribute to everyone who came before them. The poet wants the reader to laugh and remember to feel proud of the struggle that our previous generations went through to arrive here.
Laugh and be merry: remember, in olden time. God made Heaven and Earth for joy He took in a rhyme, Made them, and filled them full with the strong red wine of His mirth The splendid joy of the stars: the joy of the earth.
In the second stanza, the speaker reinforces his previous statements and talks about staying happy. He tells the reader to remember the older generation and the past. The speaker talks about the beginning and creation of life and humanity and talks about how much joy God would have felt while creating heaven and the Earth. The speaker says that one should think about the joy and mirth God must have put in while creating life on earth. One should always remember that.
This stanza begins with the repetition of the phrase “Laugh and be merry” followed by “remember.” The poet alludes to the biblical creation story, emphasizing God’s joy in creating the universe. God is portrayed as a poet, using rhyme to form the world, highlighting the deliberate and rhythmic nature of creation. The mention of “strong red wine” suggests a connection to the Christianity, symbolizing God’s joy in the act of creation.
The stars and earth are personified, emphasizing that their joy is a reflection of God’s happiness in the world he created. The stanza focuses on the poet’s portrayal of God as a joyful creator and the intricate, purposeful nature of his creation.
So we must laugh and drink from the deep blue cup of the sky, Join the jubilant song of the great stars sweeping by, Laugh, and battle, and work, and drink of the wine outpoured In the dear green earth, the sign of the joy of the Lord.
In this stanza the speaker urges the reader to embrace joy and vitality. He encourages enjoyment under the vast sky and to join in the divine chorus of stars. The speaker calls for a life filled with laughter, purposeful endeavors, and a deep appreciation for the earth’s bounties. These experiences symbolize divine joy. The speaker forms an image that emphasizes the beauty and vitality inherent in existence.
In this stanza the poet conveys a spirited message about how one should approach life. He encourages the reader to fully immerse in the joys and experiences the world has to offer. The mention of drinking from the “deep blue cup of the sky” evokes a sense of expansiveness and opportunity, urging the reader to embrace the limitless potential of life. In the line, “jubilant song of the great stars sweeping by” brings forth a sense of unity with the universe and divinity.
This cosmic imagery conveys a feeling of transcendence and connectedness to something greater. The poet also encourages to not only revel in joy but also to face challenges and take part in the richness of life’s experiences. The reference to the “dear green earth” as a sign of the “joy of the Lord” focuses on the idea that nature itself is a product of divine happiness. The poet in this stanza encourages an appreciation for the natural world.
Laugh and be merry together, like brothers akin, Guesting awhile in the rooms of a beautiful inn, Glad till the dancing stops, and the lilt of the music ends. Laugh till the game is played; and be you merry, my friends.
The speaker in this stanza advocates for joy and companionship. He encourages a sense of togetherness and celebration, comparing it to the bond between brothers. The speaker sees life as a temporary but beautiful experience like staying in a welcoming inn. The speaker urges the reader to maintain a cheerful spirit, to continue dancing and enjoying the music of life. The speaker talks in a warm and inclusive demeanor. He puts value in shared experiences and the simple pleasures of life.
The poet adopts a celebratory and exuberant tone in this stanza, urging the reader to embrace joy and companionship. There is an underlying sense of warmth and affection, particularly in the address to the reader as “my friends,” which conveys a genuine desire for shared happiness. The motive of the poet seems to be to inspire a sense of unity and merriment among the readers, encouraging them to seize the fleeting moments of joy in life.
The metaphor of the beautiful inn and the imagery of dancing and music evoke a vivid atmosphere of festivity, underscoring the poet’s intention to celebrate the simple pleasures of existence. Additionally, there is a recognition of life’s impermanence, suggesting a motive to savor and appreciate each moment of togetherness and happiness.