Laugh and Be Merry: Analysis

John Masefield was born in Ledbury in Herefordshire in the year  1878. It was at the early age of sixteen, Masefield joined the merchant navy. He remained the Poet laureate of the United Kingdom from 1830 until his death, 1867. Masefield developed his passion for writing and reading while he was on his voyage! Today, he is popular for his classic children’s novels like The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delight.

Laugh and Be Merry: Analysis

Here, we are attempting an analysis of Laugh and Be Merry by John Masefield. The poem is written in plain verse with a rhythmic style. The theme of Laugh and Be Merry is to have a constructive outlook on life. Yes, the purpose of creation is to make this better and discover happiness! Anything we create or do, is an attempt to make ourselves happy! When God created this Earth and gave life to us, his main purpose was to see us happy! Our happiness would actually make God happy! While we forget the very purpose of creation, Masefield attempts to express the same through his poetic verse!

“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.”

Laugh and Be Merry” is actually the symbol of being human! The phrase is used as a tagline and the very purpose of our life. Hence the poet commences the poem with this phrase! The world becomes better with every song! The song actually refers to the inner voice when happy!

“Blow in the teeth of a wrong.”

If you do something wrong, make a mistake, punishment is inevitable! Yes, the poet says, a blow (punishment) makes the world better because it saves you from “the bigger punishment.”

“…Time is brief.”

Our time on Earth is minimal and actually can be measured with a thread! In this little life, is there any scope to sit and repent! Well, that’s a no-no!

“Laugh and be proud to belong….”

This is again a very sweet expression that reflects the notion of being humane. It’s not that we’d only be happy throughout our life! We equally need to be proud of our existence and the place from where we belonged.

“Laugh and be merry: remember, in the 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 this stanza Masefield expresses his opinion about the creation of Earth! According to him, God made Heaven and Earth for joy and took in a rhyme! Mark, there is no mention of Hell! The poem is actually an attempt to look into the brighter side of creation without depicting instances of the sleuth.

“… filled them full with the strong red wine of
His mirth”

The phrase ‘red wine’ expresses the feeling of authority, celebration, and merry-making! In the next line, the poet conveys, as heaven and the star rejoice, so does the earth!

“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.”

The stretch of the sky is endless! The poet appeals to us (…so we must laugh and drink) to lead our life much like the sky, which knows no barrier and constraint! You shouldn’t to constrained to any feeling!

Star actually is referred to as ‘Us,’ and the way we should see our life refers to the “sky.”

In life, it’s ok to fight, laugh, get wounded, or anything! But you should laugh because “to be sad is not an option for you.”

Laugh and Be Merry: Theme

In these very lines …. Laugh, battle, work, and drink of the wine outpoured.
In the dear green earth, the sign of the joy of the Lord… lays hidden the theme of the poem!

Actually, the words “laugh,” “battle,” “work” are associated with “drinking of the wine.”

The words “work and battle” here symbolize all human actions! In a battle, lives are lost, but still, the poet tells you to laugh because if the battle is inevitable, you have to develop the feeling of accepting the loss happily! That’s the way of creation! Only if nine others fail, one becomes successful – this is the truth! To love and laugh even after failure is the theme of the poem! Because that actually is the greatest win! When all the ten are happy, that’s the sign of the joy of the Lord.

“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 final stanza ignites the feeling of brotherhood because we all are eventually going to die! The purpose of hatred or separation withers upon realizing the ultimate end of each being! We are in our individual rooms of a beautiful inn. Anytime the music can stop, and then it actually ends! So, let there be a happy beginning, a happy journey, and a happy ending!

Laugh and be Merry: Central Idea

Heaven and Earth are in rhythm.

The rhythm is happiness.

You have to laugh and be happy beyond any situation.

A poem attempts an understanding of the purpose of creation! Creation is meant to provide happiness to the creator, and this reveals why we’ll be happy!

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