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Thread: Help with: She, to Him; by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

  1. #1
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    Thumbs down Help with: She, to Him; by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

    Good morning everybody,

    I don't know if I am posting on the right forum, so I am sorry if it is not the case.

    Also sorry for my bad English, French is my first language but I fell in love with British and American poetry so I try to read, analyse a lot of them.

    I have been trying to understand this poem for more than 10 days, but I can't see the deep meaning, the structure, or the images used here. I don't get the references. Every line is a mytery to me.

    I've done searches on the author, nothing helped me. And I really want to understand.

    Here you are the poem:

    When you shall see me in the toils of Time,
    My lauded beauties carried off from me,
    My eyes no longer stars as in their prime,
    My name forgot of Maiden Fair and Free;
    When, in your being, heart concedes to mind,
    And judgment, though you scarce its process know,
    Recalls the excellencies I once enshrined,
    And you are irked that they have withered so;
    Remembering mine the loss is, not the blame,
    That Sportsman Time but rears his brood to kill,
    Knowing me in my soul the very same
    One who would die to spare you touch of ill!
    Will you not grant to old affection's claim
    The hand of friendship down Life's sunless hill?


    Thank you very much!
    Antoine

  2. #2
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    Hi Antoine

    This is a poem about a young girl and her lover or husband. She is asking him “Will you still love me when I am old?”. I will explain each line of the poem and see if it helps you. Excuse me if I explain things in too much detail but many words he uses have more than one meaning and they are used to compare rather than state a concept.

    When you shall see me in the toils of Time,
    This means “when time has made me old and worked its effect one me” Toils means “work”
    My lauded beauties carried off from me,
    Lauded means to praise so “My beauty which people have praised has disappeared (time has “stolen” my beauty and has carried it away like a thief (Voleur))
    My eyes no longer stars as in their prime,
    My eyes have become dull and no longer sparkle or shine like a star (etoile) as they did when I was young and in my prime (at my best)
    My name forgot of Maiden Fair and Free;
    People see me as an old woman and no longer think of me as a young girl and have forgotten that I was young and beautiful before I was married. When they hear my name, they will not think “Ah! Yes! The beautiful young girl”
    When, in your being, heart concedes to mind,
    “Yes, you love me now but that is your heart ruling you. Later when I am not beautiful, you will start to think (concede means to surrender or give up an idea, argument or game). In other words you will fall out of love with me when you analyse things.
    And judgment, though you scarce its process know,
    Although you may not realise it, you will make a judgement but you will not understand how you arrive at this conclusion. Scarce here means” barely”. (“He will never be an engineer – he scarcely understand mathematics”)
    Recalls the excellencies I once enshrined,
    You will remember how beautiful I was “Excellencies” here means how superior, how I was the best and most beautiful. “Enshrined” means “contained” or embodied. So “I contained all the beauties of a young girl”
    And you are irked that they have withered so;
    Irked means annoyed, irritated. Withered – faded, like a flower old and wrinkled. So “You will become annoyed that I am no longer young and beautiful”
    Remembering mine the loss is, not the blame,
    I cannot help it – “It is true I have lost my beauty but I cannot be blamed for that”.
    That Sportsman Time but rears his brood to kill,
    This is a complex analogy. In Britain, game bird eggs (pheasants, partridges) are collected and hatched. The young birds are carefully reared and released in early summer so they can live in the wild. In the autumn they are shot by hunters. So he is comparing time with the hunter – Time carefully rears his prey (people) and gives them the best (beauty, intelligence) and will, when the time is right, destroy the things created (in this instance, beauty)
    Knowing me in my soul the very same
    My soul – in other words, my character, personality - is the same. I have not changed, only my body
    One who would die to spare you touch of ill!
    and I would die if it would prevent you from being hurt or becoming unhappy. Spare means to prevent or take away work or a task (“I will spare you the 10 Kilometer walk to the town – I have a car and am also going to the town”)
    Will you not grant to old affection's claim
    Please remember the happiness we have had in the past and give me (grant here means to give). So “Will you not give me, because of the love we had, “
    The hand of friendship down Life's sunless hill?
    The hand of friendship – do not be my enemy but regard me as a friend. Give me your friendship to help comfort me when there is nothing to look forward to, when only hardship lie ahead (Life’s sunless hill)

    I hope this helps. No doubt other people will disagree with my analysis – everyone can interpret it differently according to their own experience of life – but I think this would be a fair translation or explanation.

  3. #3
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    Phil B says it all for me

    Antoine,
    I just joined these forums to answer your request for help with understanding She, to Him since no replies were indicated on my screen, only to find that Phil B's excellent reply was already in place. I learned from Phil B, the actual analogy behind Sportsman Time, instead of thinking it was just an ironic comment on time and how it affects us all. Phil B's post should answer all your questions.

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    HI Wriskit,

    Thank you for the compliment regarding my analysis of the poem - though it isn't a hardship to read Hardy. He's my favorite author.

    His novels were written as pot boilers to allow him to work on his poetry though nowadays he's remembered for Tess of the D'Urbivilles and his other novels and his poems have paled into the background, which is a shame.

    He actually wrote a poem called "The puzzled game birds" - see below :

    They are not those who used to feed us
    When we were young--they cannot be -
    These shapes that now bereave and bleed us?
    They are not those who used to feed us, -
    For would they not fair terms concede us?
    - If hearts can house such treachery
    They are not those who used to feed us
    When we were young--they cannot be!.

    Again, this is about the rearing of the birds, kept semi wild by gamekeepers and nursed through the early months when the young chicks were vulnerable to weather, predators and poachers. This one refers to some time after 1st October (the start of the pheasant shooting season) and the birds confusion.

    Hardy was a man of many paradoxes - which makes him an intensely interesting poet.

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    lovely poem and very helpful details

    Hi PhilB,
    Thankyou for the excellant explanation of this lovely poem...
    I have recently enrolled in masters In English Literature and have to study Hardy's Return of the Native for our first semester....

    Iam searching for some sort of biography on him if you have any suggestions, sites, books please let me know...

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