Two poems that discuss moments or situations where life can be celebrated are Thomas Hardy’s “Beeny Cliff” and “After reading in a letter proposals for building a cottage” (“Cottage”) by John Clare. The poets particularly discuss the beauty of life with regards to the natural world around them and their thoughts on interaction with other people.
Nature and features of animals and plants play a large role in these poems displaying their love of life. In the first stanza of Cottage it is mentioned that “grass plats grace the door”. The use of the word “grace” is of significance here as this suggests that he feels that his home has been blessed with the presence of nature; or that at least he welcomes it. The positive impact of nature is also evident in the first stanza of Beeny Cliff as he describes the “opal and the sapphire of that wandering western sea”. The sea being described with the appearance of precious and beautiful gemstones shows he is impressed by it, as well the alliteration and personification of “wandering western” which rolls off the tongue paints an affectionate picture of the ocean. There are many other positive natural references with John Clare describing his small enclosed garden, “flowers that blossom sweet” and the “sweeping swallows”; while Thomas Hardy mentions the “clear- sunned March day” and how the “sun bursts out again”. All of these natural events are ones that the poets obviously enjoy and they have both included them to show the positive image of the times they are writing about.
The relationship between the poets and other people has great significance and shows great difference in the way that they enjoy life. From the poems we can deduced that Thomas Hardy’s time on Beeny Cliff was much better because of the presence of the woman; while John Clare seems to enjoy his time spent alone without much in the way of company. There are several points in the poem where this is suggested. From the first line of Cottage the shed is described as “my shed”. If this was shared with a partner or companion it would read “our shed” which suggests he is living alone. In the second stanza his door “closes tight” as wells as “locks being a wanted thing” to keep thieves out at night”; which shows that he wants his cottage to be secure which may seem obvious but as he has dedicated an entire stanza to this, it shows that keeping people out is a priority.
The bulk of the poem discusses the presence of nature with no mention of people which alludes to his feeling that nature is enough of a companion for him; while the penultimate stanza mentions ” a cupboard for the books” showing off another pass time which allows him to be entertained without company. In an unusual way he is celebrating life because he is describing what would be a perfect existence to him which is one of little human contact while he can revel in literature and nature. This is of course in contrast to Beeny cliff which would be an entirely different poem without the presence of Hardy’s female companion. Whereas Clare describes the need to keep a distance between himself and others, Hardy uses his words in describing the woman, painting her as “the woman riding high above with bright hair flapping free”. We know that he has strong feelings towards her as in the first stanza he describes her as “the woman who I loved so, and who loyally loved me. He also mentions that “the woman now is-elsewhere–“, showing that unlike Clare he cares about not having company of other people.
For further evidence of love for life in Cottage, ostensibly there is language such as “I love” “summer seat” and two uses of the word “sweet”. In terms of structure it is laid out in symmetrical four line stanzas which match the neat and perfect picture portrayed in the poem. However if you look deeper into the language there are some subtle religious references. For example the word “grace” in the first stanza is used which is referenced frequently in Christianity. As well as this the line “pin to the wall with nails” in the third stanza which may be referring to Jesus Christ being nailed to the cross. There are many other examples which may allude to having religious links. The book cupboard may be for a bible and in the last stanza when he says “I’ll thank ye for the gift” he may be thanking god for nature or life.
However these poems are by no means only stating that life is perfect. Some of the images created show more negative themes such as how nature turns sour and the woman appears to leave Thomas hardy in Beeny Cliff as well as how John Clare’s images of solitude and desire control nature could be considered dark and abrasive. However yet another U-turn could be made and opinion could lie in the vein that these slightly darker elements could create a piece of work that resembles real life in the way that life is never perfect. Perhaps many positive images combined with some negative ones shows that life should be celebrated because of its challenges.