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Thomas Hardy Poem – Neutral Tones Essay Sample

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 979
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  • Category: poem

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Introduction of TOPIC

Taking Neutral Tones as a starting point, discuss the emotions and reactions to love shown by Hardy in his poems about unrequited love as compared with the 1912-3 collection.

You should view this as a chance to really hit AO5. I want lovers named and through circumstances of each discussed as fully as possible.

Hardy’s focus in many poems is around the subject of unrequited love and exhibits the emotions that are felt at that period of time. He also wrote a selection of poems called the 1912-13 collection, which focused on his first wife Emma and her death, however, these poems rarely talked about his love for her. It was mostly about blame or opportunities that he could have had with her but he had let pass. The theme of missed opportunities also runs through poems other than the 1912-13 collection.

In Hardy’s poem ‘Neutral Tones’, Hardy talks about a memory he has when he is 27 years old. This poem is a snapshot of a moment, where he recalls standing with his former young love by the side of a pond, in the middle of winter, ‘we stood by a pond that winter day’. The unknown girl and Hardy are surrounded by dead landscape that acts as a metaphor for their emaciated relationship, ‘the sun was white’. The white colour of the sun represents emptiness and lack of passion, the sun has been drained of its natural golden colour. Hardy uses pathetic fallacy in this metaphor to describe his relationship. Although they have both exchanged words and looks with each other, ‘your eyes on me were as eyes that rove over tedious riddles of years ago; and some words played between us to and fro’, they have both come to the acknowledgement that they cannot stay together, for whatever reason.

In the poem ‘The Going’ from the 1912-13 collection, Hardy’s emotions about Emma are very different to the emotions that he felt about the unknown girl in the poem ‘Neutral Tones’, or even in the poem ‘When I Set Out For Lyonnesse’ who, like the poem ‘The Going’ is also about Emma. The reason for this is the different time periods of when Hardy wrote the poem or when the event in the p

oem actually happened. The poem ‘When I Set Out For Lyonnesse’ was written in 1870, this

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was when he met and fell in love with Emma Lavinia Gifford. This is why the tone of the poem and the mood in the poem is very joyful. Whereas in the poem ‘The Going’ which is also a poem about Emma, which is written in 1912. The tone and mood of this poem is gloomy and depressing, this is because in 1912 Emma died and the titanic sunk.

The emotions that Hardy expresses in the poem ‘When I Set Out For Lyonnesse’ is described as if he is on cloud nine. The enchanting magical words that he uses, express his raw emotion of Emma when he first meets her. ‘With magic in my eyes, all marked with mute surmise, my radiance rare and fathomless’. The repetition of the first two lines in every stanza emphasizes on the happiness Hardy feels, it is as if he is proud and almost showing Emma off. The repetition of the word ‘I’ is used a couple of times in each stanza. The use of first person in this poem highlights the fact that Hardy is the one that is happy; he is the one that had ‘magic in his eyes’. The magical words in this poem allow us to see the passion Hardy felt for Emma in the early days of their relationship. This in contrast to poems he wrote later in life describes his relationship with Emma to be more sour. Their relationship is withering away and in the 1912-13 collection we are able to see that the opportunities Hardy could have had to repair their relationship is now impossible to do as she is now dead.

One of the poems in the 1912-13 collection is the poem ‘The Going’ Hardy feels anger towards Emma. Although she has passed, Hardy still blames her for disappearing without saying good-bye, ‘why did you give no hint that night? Never to bid good-bye’, like she used to do when she was alive. He blames her, then remembers the good times he had with her, ‘you were she who abode By those red-veined rocks far west. You were the swan-necked one who rode Along the beetling Beeny Crest’. In the latter end of the poem he talks about his regrets. Hardy felt that he and her could have done more than they did in their times together. He acknowledges that he had wasted time and now he has lost the time, he has missed the only opportunity he had with her. ‘why, then, latterly did we not speak. That time’s renewal? We might have said, ‘in this bright spring weather we’ll visit together Those places that we once visited.’ It can be seen that Hardy and Emma had some good times but towards the latter years of their marriage things worsened. The passion from their relationship had withered away and soon it had become unbearable to live with each other. After Emma died, Hardy realised that he could have made things better, however by this time, things were already too late.

In many of Hardy’s poems different emotions are shown when he talks about different women or different time periods. There tends to be a pattern where we are able to see that Hardy’s emotions and tones in his poems are a lot more joyful and passionate in the poems written in or about the first part of his life, in comparison to the second half of his life where his marriage was failing and his poems got a lot more gloomier.

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