But it can be used as a way in to the study of Thomas | | | |Hardy’s poems generally. | | | |About Thomas Hardy | | | |Hardy lived from 1840 to 1928. He was the son of a mason, from Dorset, in the south west of England. He studied | | | |to be an architect, and worked in this profession for many years. He also began to write prose fiction. His first| | | |effort (The Poor Man and the Lady) was never published, but his second novel was published in 1871. This was | | | |Desperate Remedies.
It was not well-received, but the next book, Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), did better. | | | |Hardy eventually published many novels – these vary in merit but include many which are established as | | | |masterpieces of English fiction: Far from the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native, The Mayor of Casterbridge,| | | |The Woodlanders, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure. | | | |Back to top | | | |Hardy enjoyed ommercial success, but his work proved controversial, and his publishers continually tried to tone| | | |it down. Critics savagely condemned his last two novels, Jude and Tess (as they are abbreviated for convenience).
| | | |Hardy no longer needed to write prose fiction for a living – the royalties from his existing work gave him more | | | |than enough security. He had always preferred poetry – and believed that he was better as a writer in this form. | | | |He wrote verse throughout his life, but did not publish a volume until Wessex Poems and Other Verses (for which | | | |he did his own illustrations) appeared in 1898.
What becomes apparent from researching Thomas Hardy’s life is the multitude of experiences and influences that may have had some bearing on how he wrote and the content of these works. Obviously, his early life in Dorset and the bearing upon which this had on his early works is apparent through vivid descriptions and the recounting of certain episodes – so much so that it is impossible ...
Hardy certainly made up for lost time, eventually publishing six | | | |collections of verse as well as the huge poetic drama, The Dynasts, of which the first part appeared in 1904. | | | |Thomas Hardy was married twice – his first marriage, long and mostly unhappy, was to Emma Gifford. They married | | | |in 1874. Emma died in 1912, and in 1914 Hardy married his secretary, Florence Dugdale, who later became his | | | |biographer. Hardy died in 1928, aged 87. He had asked to be laid beside Emma, but his body was buried in Poet’s | | | |Corner in Westminster Abbey. Only his heart was placed in Emma’s grave – or was it?
There is a curious story that| | | |his housekeeper placed the heart on the kitchen table, where his sister’s cat seized it, and ran off into the | | | |nearby woods. In this version of events, a pig’s heart was duly buried beside Emma. | | | |Back to top | | | |[pic] | | | |War poems | | | |Hardy wrote poems at the times of the second Boer War of 1899-1902 and the Great War of 1914-1918. Some poems | | | |obviously reflect these particular conflicts (Drummer Hodge and Channel Firing, for example).
But others, though | | | |written at the time, have a more general relevance – such as The Man He Killed and In Time of “The Breaking of | | | |Nations”. This is not accidental – Hardy explicitly tried to relate specific historical conflicts to a wider | | | |historical scheme. He attempted to do this in a grand or epic poetic drama of the Napoleonic Wars – The Dynasts | | | |(which has three parts, nineteen acts and one hundred and thirty scenes).
In this he also relates the great | | | |moments of history to the lives of ordinary people. | | | |Hardy’s war poems show a great diversity of attitude.
We cannot, on their evidence alone, identify a clear-cut | | | |opinion of war to which Hardy keeps consistently. Channel Firing presents a horribly pessimistic view of man’s | | | |bellicose stupidity. In Time of “The Breaking of Nations” is triumphantly optimistic in asserting the fact that | | | |the good things of everyday life will survive when wars are long forgotten. | | | |Back to top | | | |The Going of the Battery captures the sadness (for those left behind) that war brings, but no criticism of war is| | | |stated or implied.
A lot of Thomas Hardy’s poems share these themes of death and decay. The poems may have diverse topics, but they speak volumes about these themes symbolically or directly. Hardy explains the themes of death and decay in the poem “I look into my glass” in a way that breaks a lot of stereotypes. The poem begins with Hardy’s dissatisfaction at his physical state in his old age. Phrases like “wasting ...
The reference to “Honour” in the fourth stanza suggests that the soldiers’ cause is worth | | | |fighting for. | | | |In Drummer Hodge, while he shows the tragedy and waste of war, and perhaps implies that Hodge’s sacrifice is | | | |rendered futile by his ignorance of the land over which he is fighting, yet Hardy makes no explicit criticism of | | | |war. | | | |In The Man He Killed, on the other hand, Hardy’s skilful device of the narrator’s vain attempt to justify his | | | |action is an obvious indictment of war, as it is clear that he has no reason to kill his “foe”. | | |Back to top | | | |The Going of the Battery | | | |Stanza 1 | stanza 2 | stanza 3 | stanza 4 | stanza 5 | stanza 6 | stanza 7 | discussing the poem | | | |This poem is about what happens when a group of soldiers and their field guns leave for service overseas. The | | | |guns collectively are the “battery” of the title, though this noun normally includes also the men who operate | | | |them – an artillery company.