Following is a poem by Thomas Hardy. There are sentences 'Simple shepherds all' three times. I think these sentences are a kind of call towards shepherds. However, one of my friends who is a literary critic said this means that 'like you all(=shepherds)’.He analyzes that To-morrow is my working day Simple shepherds all--means "To-morrow is my working day, like you all shepherds" Is his interpretation possible in this context? I don't think so, but I cannot explain why his interpretation is not correct grammatically and also not good considering the meaning in context. Do you have any idea to explain this?

The Stranger's song by Thomas Hardy (As sung by Mr. Charles Charrington in the play of "The Three Wayfarers")

O MY trade it is the rarest one, Simple shepherds all-- My trade is a sight to see; For my customers I tie, and take 'em up on high, And waft 'em to a far countree!

My tools are but common ones, Simple shepherds all-- My tools are no sight to see: A little hempen string, and a post whereon to swing, Are implements enough for me!

To-morrow is my working day, Simple shepherds all-- To-morrow is a working day for me: For the farmer's sheep is slain, and the lad who did it ta'en, And on his soul may God ha' mer-cy!

enter link description here--Thomas Hardy's poem, The Stranger's song

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    You can't always use grammar or logic to interpret poetry and lyrics - whose content may be emotive rather than semantic anyway. Whatever - you can interpret the text however it suits you, but I just see "Simple shepherds all" as a "vocative" interjection addressing the singer's audience. May 9 at 3:40
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    I'd agree with Fumble, this line has metrical and poetic effect. It is a refrain (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refrain). It isn't linked grammatically to the rest of the poem. You'd do better on Literature
    – James K
    May 9 at 5:25
  • Thanks a lot Fumble and James explaining about the poetry. Thanks again for instruction about the appropriate site. May 9 at 6:25
  • He's obviously a hangman about to hang a boy for sheep-stealing, so his speech is relevant to his audience of shepherds. May 9 at 8:30
  • It just means: they are all simple shepherds, and it is common in poetry to write: adjective noun all. It is a type of poetic device.
    – Lambie
    May 20 at 18:19


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