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Thread: Thomas Hardy

  1. #1
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    Mar 2004

    Thomas Hardy

    Isagel, you asked about Thomas Hardy in the middle of the thread about Larkin.I dont know a lot about Thomas Hardy though I studied one of his books 'Selected Shorter Poems.' I can well imagine that Larkin took inspiration from Hardy, though Hardy I think, when it comes to mysery, expresses it much more masterfully. I found this poetry book one to the most miserable I ever read, but there's no doubt about the poetic content in Hardy's poetry. It's expressive and full of imagery. I guess it depends on if it's your cup of tea or not. He was born in Dorset in 1840 and died in 1928. He was married to a woman called Emma who he doesn't seem to have loved very much, but after she died, he became obsessed with her, probably because of the guilt for the way he treated her in life. He remarried, but his thoughts were still with his dead wife. He was brought up as a christian but he lost his faith in adulthood and developed a fatalistic, materialistic view of life. Here's one of his poems:

    In Tenebris

    Winter time nighs;
    But my bereavement-pain
    It cannot bring again:
    Twice no-one dies.

    Flower-petals flee;
    But, since it once hath been,
    No more that severing scene
    Can harrow me.

    Birds faint in dread:
    I shall not lose old strength
    In the lone frost's black length:
    Strength long since fled!

    Leaves freeze to dun:
    But friends cannot turn cold
    This season as of old
    For him with none.

    Tempests may scath;
    But love cannot make smart
    Again this year his heart,
    Whom no heart hath.

    Black is night's cope:
    But death will not appal
    One who, past doubtings all,
    Waits in unhope.

    There are lots of poems on similar lines in this book. There is one poem of Hardy's that I love, called 'The Darkling Thrush.' which was written on the last day of 1899.

  2. #2
    Thank you for the information. How very kind and thoughtful of you! I´ll read some more by him, and perhaps we can discuss later.
    "Man was made for joy and woe;
    And when this we rightly know
    Through the world we safely go" Blake

  3. #3
    Registered User nothingman87's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    KC, Missouri
    Hardy's "A Man he Killed" is a very good poem and can be found within this website's database.
    "When unto these sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up a remembrance of things past."

  4. #4
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    Mar 2004
    Here is the poem you are referring to, Nothing Man. I think it's clever in the way it puts forward the killing of the man as an afterthought, just one of those things - inconsequential. 'I shot him dead because - because he was my foe' is written as if after stating he killed him, he then pauses to think of a reason why and the only reason he can come up with is that he was his foe, though really he had no reason to be his foe as they were both the same, just doing a job. I don't really like this poem. Its not 'poetic' enough for me, though it's bold in its meaning and the rhyme makes it unquestionably poetry, somehow something is missing..some kind of embroidery is missing. But this ofcourse is my opinion and I really dont like Hardy except for the Darkling Thrush.

    The Man He Killed
    (From "The Dynasts")

    "HAD he and I but met
    By some old ancient inn,
    We should have sat us down to wet
    Right many a nipperkin!

    "But ranged as infantry, 5
    And staring face to face,
    I shot at him as he at me,
    And killed him in his place.

    "I shot him dead because—
    Because he was my foe, 10
    Just so: my foe of course he was;
    That's clear enough; although

    "He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
    Off-hand like—just as I—
    Was out of work—had sold his traps— 15
    No other reason why.

    "Yes; quaint and curious war is!
    You shoot a fellow down
    You'd treat, if met where any bar is,
    Or help to half-a-crown." 20

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