Hardy: Selected Poems
Hardy abandoned the novel at the turn of the century, probably after public reaction to Jude the Obscure, but continued to write verse displaying a wide variety of metrical styles and stanza forms and a broad scope of tone and attitude. This definitive volume contains selections from his numerous collections published between 1898 and 1928.
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From WESSEX POEMS AND OTHER VERSES
Thomas Hardy is well known for his meter. View the following video on meter, and look for this feature as you read through Hardy's works. (This annotation contains a video)
Rhyme scheme refers to the pattern created in a poem or song. Refer to the poem "Hap." Which of the following accurately reflects the rhyme scheme of the first stanza?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
The highlighted lines are an example of which literary device?
What is the central conflict presented in the poem "I Look into My Glass"?
From POEMS OF THE PAST AND THE PRESENT
Be sure to pay attention to each poem's title as you read. Here, the poem's title gives you a hint about the setting. What does it mean to "embark"?
"Drummer Hodge" is a poem about the Boer War in South Africa. Here, in this highlighted word (as well in other words throughout the poem), the author uses Africanns, which is a form of Dutch South African dialect. Read the entire poem and consider the following question: what is the author's purpose in including these Africanns words?
Examine the highlighted stanza. From what point of view is this poem written?
Notice the author's use of dialogue here. This is a unique feature that one may not often find in poetry. What do you think is Hardy's purpose in including dialogue in this poem?
The Matterhorn is a mountain in the Pennine Alps resting between Switzerland and Italy. The town of Zermatt rests below the Matterhorn. View the picture of the Matterhorn below, and look for imagery as you read through the poem. (This annotation contains a link)
Compare the poem to the image of the Matterhorn provided in the previous annotation. Evaluate Hardy's use of imagery in the poem. Does his imagery effectively portray the Matterhorn as presented in the photograph? Why or why not? Provide at least two examples, one from the text and one from the photograph, to support your analysis.
"To Lizbie Brown" is considered to be a "lyrical poem." Lyric poems generally express personal, generally emotional, feelings. Modern lyric poems often have a rhyme scheme. Examine the first stanza. Is there a rhyme scheme present in this poem?
Examine the two highlighted stanzas. What theme is emerging in this poem?
Examine the poem "At a Hasty Wedding." Which of the following literary devices are present in the poem?
When reading, it is important to consider a word's denotations and connotations. Watch the following video on denotations and connotations, and examine the connotations of three of the words in the highlighted passage. What feeling is the author trying to evoke with such connotations? (This annotation contains a video)
Examine the highlighted stanza. To whom is the "he" referring to in these lines?
Notice the details in these first few lines. The speaker is telling you where he stands (at a gate) as well as the time of year. During what season does this poem take place?
In his poem "The Darkling Thrush," what does winter symbolize?
Observe the rhythmic, almost musical, quality of this poem so far. This rhythm is often achieved by the use of meter. Meter occurs when an author uses a set number of syllables per line. How many syllables per line do you notice in this poem? Has Hardy established a meter? Hint: use the following website as a resource if you need additional help with meter. (This annotation contains a link)
"Tenebris" is a Latin word that refers to dark, darkness, or nighttime. Based on the title, do you think this poem will literally focus on darkness, or might Hardy try to offer a symbolic message in the text?
Examine the connotations of the words in the poem, "In Tenebris I." What is the overall tone of the poem? Use at least three specific examples from the poem, specifically citing words with connotations, to support your answer.
From TIME’S LAUGHINGSTOCKS AND OTHER VERSES
"A Trampwoman's Tragedy" is a "narrative poem." Narrative poetry tells a story, often in metered verse. As you may recall, the meter is the rhythm or beat of a poem. This is achieved by establishing a pattern of syllables, often stressed and unstressed, within a poem. Look for the narrative story, as well as the meter, as you begin reading the poem.
What is Jim's primary motivation for stabbing jeering Johnny?
What is a possible theme from "The Trampwoman's Tragedy?"
Review the highlighted lines. Based on the details provided, to whom does the "she" refer in this passage?
Notice the repetition in the lines beginning with "And" as well as "O were it but the." This repetition is an example of two literary devices: anaphora and parallel structure. Anaphora occurs when an author repeats words at the beginning of neighboring clauses. This is often used to add emphasis. Do you notice anaphora anywhere else in this poem?
The highlighted excerpt contains which of the following literary devices?
Read through the entire poem "At Casterbridge Fair." When done, listen to the audio recording of a dramatic reading of the poem, read by Richard Burton. Compare the poem to the audio recording. Do you have a new understanding of the poem after listening to Burton's reading? (This annotation contains a video)
What is mood is established in the highlighted excerpt?
Refer back to the audio recording of "At Casterbridge Fair," found in the annotation on the first page of the poem. After reading the poem and listening to the audio recording, compare the two works. How does listening to the dramatic reading change or enhance your understanding of the poem? Use at least two examples to support your explanation.
What do you think the father means when he tells his daughter to "Make a spouse in your pocket"? Look for clues to this question in the following stanza.
Alliteration occurs when the same letter or sound is used in close succession. What examples of alliteration do you see in the opening two lines of this poem?
From what point of view is the poem "A Church Romance" told?
Read the following poem "After Death" by Christina Rossetti. Compare Rossetti's poem to Hardy's poem "After the Last Breath." Do you think the authors have similar attitudes about death? (This annotation contains a link)
Refer to the previous annotation and review Rossetti's poem "After Death." Compare Hardy's poem "After the Last Breath" to Rossetti's poem. In what ways are the speakers' attitudes towards death similar? In what ways are their attitudes different? Use at least two examples from each poem to support your analysis.
What is the purpose of Hardy's use of the first-person perspective in "The Man he Killed"?
From SATIRES OF CIRCUMSTANCE, LYRICS AND REVERIES
"Channel Firing" was originally published just three months before WWI. As you read the poem, consider how the global tensions of the time may have influenced Hardy's writing here.
To whom or what does the "she" refer in the opening stanzas of "The Convergence of the Twain"?
Notice the diction in the highlighted stanzas. Consider words such as "dim," "sinister," and "shadowy." What connotations do these words evoke?
Wessex was, at one time, an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the south of Great Britain. Wessex became part of Great Britain when the country became a unified English state during the early 10th century.
Examine the highlighted line. The words "low" and "haunt" evoke which of the following connotations?
When reading poetry, it is important to evaluate an author's word choice in order to determine the mood or tone of the poem. View the following video to gain a better understanding of how to determine the mood and/or tone of a poem. What might be the mood and tone of "Before and After Summer"? (This annotation contains a link)
Examine the connotations in "At Day-Close in November." Which of the following best reflects the author's tone in this poem?
Notice the point of view in this opening stanza. The author uses the pronoun "you," which is a second person point of view. Why do you think the author chooses to write "Your Last Drive" from the second person point of view?
The highlighted excerpt contains which of the following literary devices?
What do the following lines reveal about the speaker in the poem "Rain on a Grave"?
It is often helpful to make predictions when reading a poem's title. The title, especially in Hardy's poetry, can provide you with insight into the poem's subject or mood. In this case, what does the word "Lament" mean? Make an inference about the mood or subject of this poem before you begin reading.
Identify one of the main themes in "The Voice." Use at least two examples from the text to explain how the author conveys this message.
You may have noticed a pattern emerging in some of Hardy's poems. He often speaks of the loss of a loved one, particularly a woman. Here, in "After a Journey" he wonders "where you will next be." It is possible that this "mystery woman" to whom Hardy often refers is his late wife, Emma.
Notice Hardy's mention of a "girlish form." As mentioned in the previous annotation, many presume that this "girlish form" refers to his late wife, Emma. Also, consider the detail of the word choice "form." It is unlikely that this woman is physically present, so the detail of "form" suggests he is visiting this place with the memory of Emma.
What does the final stanza of "She Charged Me" tell you about the relationship between the speaker and the woman?
Review the highlighted passage. Based on the details provided, from what source material has the husband made the workbox?
How would you characterize the wife's reaction to learning that John Wayward had died? Do you think she knew him?
Exeunt Omnes is Latin for "all go off the stage" or "all exit." This phrase is typically used in stage directions.
The term "satire" refers to the use of humor, irony, hyperbole, or ridicule in order to draw attention to, or expose or criticize, people's ignorance. As you read the poem, ask yourself if this is an accurate satire.
The highlighted excerpt contains which of the following literary devices?
Notice the author's excessive use of dashes in the highlighted excerpt (and throughout this poem). Watch the following video on the purpose of the dash. Why do you think Hardy makes this syntactical choice? (This annotation contains a video)
What is the best explanation for the author's purpose in including the dash in this excerpt?
Notice the punctuation in this excerpt. The use of several periods in succession is known as an "ellipsis." Watch the following video to find out the purpose of an ellipsis. Why do you think the author chooses this punctuation here? (This annotation contains a video)
Consider again the definition of satire. Do you think Hardy's poems "Satires of Coincidence in Fifteen Glances" are an effective form of satire? If so, explain the subject of his satire and how he effectively achieves his purpose. If not, explain why Hardy failed at achieving the purpose of a satire. Use at least two examples from the text to support your position.
From MOMENTS OF VISION AND MISCELLANEOUS VERSES
What is the mood in the final lines of the poem "We Sat at the Window"?
Lanivet is a village in Cornwall, England.
Review the evidence in the highlighted passage. To whom (or what) is the narrator speaking in the poem "To the Moon"?
Notice the lyrical, musical quality of this poem. In particular, observe how Hardy repeats "O" throughout the poem. Why do you think he does this?
What is the figurative meaning of the word "lot" in the poem "The Blinded Bird"?
Notice the use of personification in this opening stanza. Can you identify at least two examples of personification here?
According to an article by The University of Salford, "Thomas Hardy composed 'The Pedigree' in 1916 and it appeared in his 1917 collection Moments of Vision. The poem responds to theories of heredity discussed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which undermine the speaker’s sense of individuality." Notice how, in the first stanza, the speaker is described as "Gazing at his reflection, the speaker fancies, with horror, that he sees the many predecessors from whom he has inherited his physical, mental and behavioural predispositions. These inherited characteristics are not superficial externalities to a unique, internal soul but permeate his whole being." To view the original source or to read more on the background of this poem, you can access the full article by clicking the link below: (This annotation contains a link)
What is the meaning of the word "divine" as it is used in the highlighted excerpt?
Identify the theme of the poem "Something Tapped." Use at least two examples from the text to support your explanation.
The term "anniversary" is typically used in the context of celebration, often when referring to one's wedding anniversary. What is the subject in Hardy's poem "An Anniversary"? Do you think it is a celebratory event?
Based on the context and details, what might the gate symbolize in this poem?
In this context, the phrase "in his prime" refers to the man's best, or strongest, part of his life.
Notice the use of alliteration in the highlighted stanzas. What is the effect of this alliteration?
What prompts the speaker to recall his late sister in the poem "Logs on the Hearth"?
The highlighted excerpt contains an example of which literary device?
Observe the placement of pronouns in this highlighted excerpt. Why do you think the author place the pronouns after each adjective?
Sometimes hearing a poem read aloud can change your interpretation. Watch the following reading of the poem "A Backward Spring" after reading through the poem independently. Does the video reading change your interpretation? (This annotation contains a video)
What is the effect in the author's juxtaposition of the "giant" to the "dwarf"?
Evaluate the details provided in "Midnight on the Great Western." Based on the context (as well as the details), which of the following is likely the setting of this poem?
Consider the connotations of the word "prison." Why do you think Hardy includes this word choice here?
Notice the structure of the poem "Afterwards." Hardy has established a series of hypothetical questions, each followed by a statement. What might be his purpose in doing this?
Re-read the poem "Afterwards" and determine one of the central themes. Using at least three examples from the text, explain and evaluate the theme.
From LATE LYRICS AND EARLIER
The poem "weathers" highlights a contrast between
If the woman is not the person the speaker intended to meet here, who do you think she is? Make an inference about what will happen in this poem.
Examine the connotations in the highlighted passage. What mood has the author created with his word choice?
Notice the repetition at the end of the stanzas, particularly the words "to-night" and "eyes." What is the effect of this repetition?
"Voices from Things Growing in a Churchyard" is a poem wherein the speaker ponders death while visiting graves in a churchyard. Compare this poem to Edgar Allen Poe's famous poem "The Conqueror Worm," which also muses on the subject of death. In what ways are these poems similar? In what ways are they different? (This annotation contains a link)
Refer back to the annotation from the beginning of "Voices from Things Growing in a Churchyard," and reflect back on Edgar Allen Poe's poem "The Conqueror Worm." Compare the two works. Identify how each speaker views death in his poem. In your analysis, include at least two examples from each poem to support your explanation.
To whom or what does "his face" refer to in the second line of this stanza?
Notice the rhyme scheme and meter here. How does the rhyme and meter influence your reading of this poem?
Notice the capitalization of "Now" and "Then." Why do you think the author makes this syntactical choice?
How does the mood shift in this first stanza of "The Dream is--Which?"
Watch the following video on point of view. Can you identify the point of view of "The Master and the Leaves"? (This annotation contains a video)
Examine the evidence from the text. Who or what is the "dumb friend" in Hardy's poem "Last Words to a Dumb Friend"?
It seems as though this poem describes an old man looking back on his happier, younger days. From what you can gather in the first two stanzas, how do you think the speaker feels about his current stage in life?
Review "An Ancient to Ancients." What do you think is the main theme of this poem? Provide at least three examples from the text to support your explanation.
From HUMAN SHOWS, FAR PHANTASIES, SONGS AND TRIFLES
Based on the evidence in "Waiting Both," with which statement would Thomas Hardy most likely agree?
What do you think the speaker means when he says "under the bough"?
Notice the end words of "use" and "news." These words do not exactly rhyme. When words share only a partial matching of sounds they are known as an "imperfect rhyme" or "half rhyme."
After reading "The Calf," watch the video reading of the same poem. Compare the two versions. Does hearing (and seeing) the video change your interpretation or understanding of the text? (This annotation contains a video)
Refer to the previous annotation which provides the video link to "The Calf." Using at least two examples from the poem and the video, explain how the video enhances or detracts from your understanding of the poem.
Why must the women all walk "arm in arm"?
Notice the connotations associated with "labours," "funeral," and "dirge." Based on these connotations, what is the opening mood of the poem?
"Anon" is a colloquial term that essential means "soon" or "shortly."
Which of the following literary terms is present in the opening lines of "When Oats Were Reaped"?
Which of the following subjects is explored in the poem "The Missed Train"?
Notice the use of the first-person perspective as the author choose the pronoun "I." Who do you think the speaker is in this poem?
Read the highlighted passage. To what does the author compare to "shock-headed urchins"?
Notice the excessive use of dialogue in the highlighted stanzas. What effect does the dialogue have on your reading of the poem?
From WINTER WORDS IN VARIOUS MOODS AND METRES
Notice the repetition of the title line "I am the One" throughout this poem. Who might the speaker be in this poem?
What is the purpose of juxtaposing the details of "two hundred years" to "two hours" in the closing lines of "Throwing a Tree"?
A "regatta" is a boat race. More specifically, a "Henley Regatta" is an annual rowing race held on the River Thames in England.
Read "A Gentleman's Second-Hand Suit," paying close attention to how, in the opening stanzas, Hardy focuses on the description of the suit; however, as the poem continues, Hardy moves beyond a mere physical description of the object. Make an inference: what might be Hardy's purpose and message with this poem? Use at least two examples from the text to support your claim.