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Poetry > Thomas Hardy

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message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9306 comments Mod
One of the most renowned poets and novelists in English literary history, Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in the English village of Higher Bockhampton in the county of Dorset. He died in 1928 at Max Gate, a house he built for himself and his first wife, Emma Lavinia Gifford, in Dorchester, a few miles from his birthplace.

Interestingly, some of us were talking about W.Somerset Maugham's, "Cake and Ale," and one of the characters in that novel was based upon Thomas Hardy.


message 2: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Tyler (doulton) Afterwards

Thomas Hardy, 1840 - 1928

When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,
And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,
“He was a man who used to notice such things”?

If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid’s soundless blink,
The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight
Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think,
“To him this must have been a familiar sight.”

If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm,
When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn,
One may say, “He strove that such innocent creatures should
come to no harm,
But he could do little for them; and now he is gone.”

If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at
the door,
Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees,
Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more,
“He was one who had an eye for such mysteries”?

And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom,
And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings,
Till they rise again, as they were a new bell’s boom,
“He hears it not now, but used to notice such things?”


message 3: by Natalie (last edited Oct 23, 2017 08:29AM) (new)

Natalie Tyler (doulton) I just posted "Afterwards" by Hardy. It's not his best poem, but it's a good beginning. The speaker of the poem is wondering what people might think or say about him after he dies.

The words seem very Victorian and formal but the sentiment is one I can identify with: do the neighbours and other people notice what kind of person we are? Do they care whether or not we notice things, and if we are kind to animals? How will we be remembered? Does anyone notice us?

The poem has some typical Hardy phrases which are magnificent in their use of stress and alliteration: such as: "wind-warped upland thorn".

I don't particularly like his use of the word "tremulous" in line one, unless he is setting up the speaker of his poem to be a particular kind of man--a tremulous one. And indeed it's likely to be a timid and nervous kind of person who would ask such questions.


message 4: by Rosina (new)

Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 219 comments Natalie wrote: "I just posted "Afterwards" by Hardy. It's not his best poem, but it's a good beginning. The speaker of the poem is wondering what people might think or say about him after he dies.

The words seem ..."


I often find myself murmuring 'He was a man who used to notice such things!' His image of the countryside is wonderful, but I agree that his persona in this poem is rather too wimpy.

Although The Darkling Thrush is my favourite of his


message 5: by Judy (last edited Oct 23, 2017 12:22PM) (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4376 comments Mod
Thank you for starting this thread, Susan. As a longtime Hardy reader I was excited to see it, and I love the poem you have chosen, Natalie.

I love the word "tremulous" here though - I think it is very effective because it ties in with the leaves and butterflies conjured up in the following two lines:

"And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk..."

It makes the speaker seem as fragile and transitory as the insects and plants around him, and I think it also has a feeling of age - the fact that it is an old man speaking, wondering when the moment will be when he is "stilled at last".


message 6: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4376 comments Mod
Still with Hardy, can anyone recommend a good edition of his drama in verse The Dynasts? I've been meaning to read this for the last few years.

I definitely want a paper copy, not Kindle, as I refer back to previous pages all the time when I'm reading poetry, with a reliable text and ideally with notes, but I am not sure if such a thing exists!


message 7: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 4400 comments Mod
The standard scholarly edition is the OUP The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy: Volume V: The Dynasts, Part Third; The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall; The Play of Saint George which you should be able to find in a decent library.

There doesn't seem to be an affordable decent edition but you could get one of the cheap/out of copyright editions and use the above as a reference to annotate your own?


message 8: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4376 comments Mod
Roman Clodia wrote: "The standard scholarly edition is the OUP [book:The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy: Volume V: The Dynasts, Part Third; The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall; The Play of Saint George..."

Thank you, R.C. - sadly the libraries in my county and the adjoining one don't have this scholarly edition, but it's good to know about it. I will probably have to buy a cheaper older edition.


message 9: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Tyler (doulton) The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

31 December 1900

……………………….……—Thomas Hardy

*******************
Somebody mentioned this poem and I started to think about it.

Hardy wrote this at the century’s end, but the poem remains evergreen for each new year’s turning of the calendar leaves. Hardy’s little bird has, in his song, the transformative power to render some promise to a bleak and “fervourless” scene.

Hardy’s little thrush is a superb addition to the tradition of “bird” poems which runs far back. He makes me think of Keats’s nightingale, of Shelley’s skylark, of Stevens’s blackbird, of Yeats’s enameled bird in Byzantium or those “indignant desert birds” of “The Second Coming”.

Hardy evokes a desolate and melancholy image: people have huddled up away from the world, and the sky is marked with “broken lyres”—certainly an image that represents the brokenness of art and music and human aspirations. But an old bird chooses to sing.

Although we are not turning off a century, for many people 2017 has seemed particularly, unusually cruel. We are weakened by deaths and politics. What better than to look to the animals, who keep on living their lives, getting old, and dying and dying faster and yet faster due to climate change. The lives of animals are as threatened as our lives are. It is nothing but a cruel and brutal consolation to think that the polar bears might die out before the humans so. This New Year’s Eve does have an end-of-days quality to it. And I cannot help but think that the “ancient pulse of germ and birth” is desiccated — on the one hand human generation has run riot; on the other so many of the births of humans and animals are doomed to despair as resources are scant and tirelessly shrinking.


message 10: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4376 comments Mod
Another great poem by Hardy. I love your comparisons with the other great "bird" poems, Natalie.

The lines from this poem that I always remember are:

"So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound"

I suppose Hardy sees both himself and the earth as aged, like the thrush, but singing out all the same. And yes, all too apposite in terms of many things that are happening in the world at the moment.


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