View Full Version : Was Thomas Hardy really a poet or a novelist?

04-22-2011, 07:32 AM
Thomas Hardy really was a poet. But when he began to write poems in 1862, there were nobody to read them. Therefore, to attract an audience and to gain a good financial position he began to write novels with a determination. As he was trained as an architect in his life and pursued this profession for 11 years till he abandoned it in 1873, he showed the same skill in building his plots which made Under the Greenwood Tree, A Pair Of Blue Eyes, Far From The Maddening Crowd, The Return Of The Native, The Trumpet-Major, Two On A Tower and The Mayor Of Caster bridge unforgettable successes. The money gained thus from his novels made his life successful and this architect built a beautiful home for him in Dorchester in 1885. He mingled in the literary and social circles in London and made friendships with Browning, Matthew Arnold and Tennyson. After writing a few more novels including The Woodlanders, Tess and Jude The Obscure, he ended his novel-writing career in 1894.

Then this determined poet, after gaining countless number of readers through novels, in 1898 began publishing the equally countless number of poems written through the years. They were as varied as poems on Nature and Man, Love, The Past and the Present of His Life, Poems Dramatic and Personative and Ballads and Narrative Poems. Nobody knew they were written many years back. The unknowing critics of his times considered his first volume of poetry as the mere caprice of an ageing novelist who would do better to stick to prose. He was sad about this and noted in his Life that many of these verses were written before their author dreamt of novels. He wrote, the date of publication is but an accident in the life of a literary creation and it denotes only when the contents start into being for the outside public. He always regarded him as a poet who had to write novels for a living. His poems are held in high esteem for their rich musical content. The poem on the British bombardments on the 'Valencieen' will still look written yesterday, if the single word is replaced with Vietnaaam. Other poems also are equally musical.

04-22-2011, 07:42 AM
He was both, but probably a better novelist than a poet.

04-22-2011, 11:31 AM
I would say equally close, though I like his poetics. Some of them, though a little funny in style are quite exquisite. It's not as if he is unappreciated either - many of his poems are quite well known.

Wendy M
04-25-2011, 04:50 AM
Morpheus I believe you are right with regards to Thomas Hardy, he was a better novelist than a Poet, even so he was a good writer:


by: Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

PON a noon I pilgrimed through
A pasture, mile by mile,
Unto the place where I last saw
My dead Love’s living smile.

And sorrowing I lay me down
Upon the heated sod:
It seemed as if my body pressed
The very ground she trod.

I lay, and thought; and in a trance
She came and stood me by--
The same, even to the marvellous ray
That used to light her eye.

“You draw me, and I come to you,
My faithful one,” she said,
In voice that had the moving tone
It bore in maidenhead.

She said: “‘Tis seven years since I died:
Few now remember me;
My husband clasps another bride;
My children mothers she.

My brethren, sisters, and my friends
Care not to meet my sprite:
Who prized me most I did not know
Till I passed down from sight.”

I said: “My days are lonely here;
I need thy smile alway:
I’ll use this night my ball or blade,
And join thee ere the day.”

A tremor stirred her tender lips,
Which parted to dissuade:
“That cannot be, O friend,” she cried;
“Think, I am but a Shade!

“A Shade but in its mindful ones
Has immortality;
By living, me you keep alive,
By dying you slay me.

“In you resides my single power
Of sweet continuance here;
On your fidelity I count
Through many a coming year.”

--I started through me at her plight,
So suddenly confessed:
Dismissing late distaste for life,
I craved its bleak unrest.

“I will not die, my One of all!--
To lengthen out thy days
I’ll guard me from minutest harms
That may invest my ways!”

She smiled and went. Since then she comes
Oft when her birth-moon climbs,
Or at the seasons’ ingresses
Or anniversary times;

But grows my grief. When I surcease,
Through whom alone lives she,
Ceases my Love, her words, her ways,
Never again to be!

Wendy M
04-25-2011, 04:51 AM
I would say equally close, though I like his poetics. Some of them, though a little funny in style are quite exquisite. It's not as if he is unappreciated either - many of his poems are quite well known.

In the South of England where I live they are very well known!

04-26-2011, 01:06 PM
I like his poems, actually. I think that his being a poet makes the novels sound lyrical and therefore makes them great novels. I suppose to an extent, all writers have dabbled in poetry, so I don't see it as an either/or question.