“Who can live in heart so glad
As the merry country lad?
Are not there, with thousands more
Than the courts of kings do know
The true pleasing sprit’s sights
That may breed true love’s delight?”
“God made the country, man made the town.”
In the quotation given above we notice a distinct preference for country life. Indeed it has been the tradition in English poetry to praise the country at the expense of the city. We understand the standpoint of the poets. To them, who have been long in city pent, ‘it is indeed very sweet.
“………to look into the fair
And open face of heaven-to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.”
They find in the country what they do not find in the city, i.e. nature in all her purity and beauty. But that is no reason why we should believe the poets when they stress the superiority of country life. Man does not live really in lap of nature, he lives in a house. Indeed we have to discuss the relative advantages of city life and country life dispassionately.
Country life has many advantages, we recognize there is peace in the country, and life flows at quiet rhythm. In the ‘towered’ cities, there is ‘the busy hum of men’, the noise, bustle, confusion of modern life at its feverish pitch.
In the country beyond a hill or across a river one leads a life of leisurely retirement. There is nothing there to worry us. Then, in the country one comes in contact with nature all the day. Outside the cottage window there is the ‘parling brook,’ the green corn-fields, the low blue distant hills and the dark green forests.
Out on the walk one hears ‘How the bird do chirp and sing,’ sees ‘the subtle fox slinking away,’ the bees gathering honey. One cannot enjoy these sights and sounds in the city. There life is so artificial, so circumscribed by laws and regulations. There the smoke covers the deep blue of the sky, and dust the deep green of the grass.
Again in the country, men and women are engaged in all sorts of healthy occupations:-
“………the ploughman, near at hand
Whistles o’er the furrow’d land,
And the milkmaid singeth blithe,
And the mower whets his scythe.
And every shepherd tells his tale
Under the hawthorn in the dale.”
Such occupations make them strong and healthy. But in the city, very few men enjoy sound health. There is disease, and chance of infection at every moment. Men have to work among a healthy surrounding in factories and workshops – which tell upon their health.
It is also to be noted that in country life we do not have those temptations and distractions which are a bane of city life. The typical country lad is much more innocent than the young cockney.
All these we grant. But there are many advantages in city life which we do not find in the country. Why, one may ask, are the people leaving the countryside and coming to the cities? In all civilized countries we find this tendency, no matter what the philanthropists and poets may say. Industrialization means city life. In the outskirts of every modern city we may find many factories and mills where thousand of workers are employed.
Written By: Syed Faiz Mujtaba