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A selection of poems by Thomas Hardy

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  • Pages: 10
  • Word count: 2406
  • Category: Poems

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In this essay I am going to be comparing poems by Thomas Hardy and writing about the rhythm, language, structure and rhyming scheme. I will also be commenting on Hardy’s life and past times, and explaining how they relate to his poetry.

“Plena Timoris” was the first poem by Hardy that we studied. “Plena Timoris” is a Latin name which means ‘Great fear’. The poem is about love and romance, and at the end gives a clear message that is, You can’t trust love, it never lasts.

From the first line of the poem, “The lovers looked over the parapet stone:” you can tell that ‘The lovers’ are going to be the main characters, and you can guess that something is going to happen to them. This quote also suggests that “The lovers” could be married.

The first verse is happy and is about love and the couple laughing together and enjoying themselves, then the mood changes and the couple slowly drift apart. This can also be shown in the life of Thomas Hardy, and how he and his wife drifted apart. Here are a few quotes from verse one of the poem, which suggest happiness and love. “Lovers”, “The moon”, “His arm around her”, “twinkled” and “laughed and leant”. Now here is a few more quotes but from verse two. These show the change in mood. “Splashing was heard”, “dripping body” and “snow”. Although “the moon” is mentioned in verse one, and is thought to be romantic, it is also seen as sad because the moon changes shape and never stays whole, so that also gives away a clue that the couple may drift apart.

The rhyming pattern is ABBAB it stays this way though out the whole poem with each verse having the same amount of lines and the same rhyming scheme. By having a regular rhyming scheme it creates a sense of harmony to begin with.

Hardy also uses a few technical terms such as an onomatopoeia, assonance and alliteration. Here is an example of an onomatopoeia that Hardy used in the second verse, “splashing” and “dripping” this emphasises the verse and makes it sound more real and life like. In verse one Hardy used an assonance, here is an example from the poem “directly blent”, and finally also in verse one is an alliteration, here is the example, “laughed and leant”. The effect of an alliteration and an assonance creates more rhythm and gives the poem more of a bounce.

“At Castle Boterel” was the second poem we studied. All the verses have the same amount of lines and have the same rhyming scheme, which is ABABB. By having a rhyming scheme it gives the poem more rhythm. Here is the first verse from the poem where you can see the rhyming scheme.

“As I drive to the junction of the lane and highway,

And the drizzle bedredches the waggonette,

I look behind at the fading byway,

And see on its slope, now glistening wet,

Distinctly yet”

Verse four includes a rhetorical question “In that hill’s story”, by this Hardy is saying that people can come and go, but the country and landscape will stay here forever.

In this poem Hardy refers back to his past life and his wife, which he didn’t in “Plena Timoris”. In the first line of verse two Hardy writes “Myself and a girlish form”, I think this is a flashback from when he was younger and that maybe a similar thing happened to him. Hardy also refers back to his wife as a “phantom figure”, this is a metaphor which means that Hardy sees his wifes figure sinking away into the distance.

In the last paragraph Hardy uses another metaphor but his time refers back to himself. He says, “for my sand is sinking”, which basically means that he is getting old. This gives the reader the effect of Hardy’s retirement or maybe Hardy dieing. Hardy finishes the poem off with the last line saying “Never again”, and by this he means never coming back. This line gives creates an effect on the reader and makes you think that the couple have drifted apart, and neither are coming back.

“The Workbox” is another poem that we studied. As a class we realized that this poem was more like a ballad due to the regular rhythm and rhyme. From this poem being more like a ballad it tells a story, and the story is about a carpenter and his wife. Like most of Hardy’s poems they start of happily and by the end the mood has changed and the ending is sad. This poem is exactly the same.

The language used in this poem is rather simple but contains alliterations. One being “Don’t, dear, despise”. The effect of the alliteration gives the poem more flow and more consistency. Here is a quote from the poem that shows happiness, “He hols the present up to her, As with a smile she nears”. This is where the carpenter has made a present for his wife and she is very happy.

Then all goes wrong and the mood changes. “Tis a scantling that I got Off poor John Wayward’s coffin”. At this point the carpenter has told his wife that the box he made her, was made with the leftover wood for a coffin. Hardy then writes with irony saying “One inch where people eat and drink, The next inch in a tomb.” This basically means that the same piece of wood could be used for either a table or a coffin. The effect of using ironing gives the reader a wider sense of the story and lets them see two different sides of the story.

The wife replies “You knew not that good lad, I fear Though he came from your native place”. The wife seems to be uncomfortable and guilty, as if she is hiding something. At the end of the poem the carpenter knows that she knows something about the death of John but carries on like nothing has happened and uses irony and sarcasm to make her feel guilty. A quote from the last line of the poem is “Her face still held aside”. This shows that the wife can’t look him in the eye as if she was lying or hiding something.

All through out the poem the tone changes a lot but the rhythm never does, and by the end of the poem I think that Hardy was trying to reveal the undercurrent of human relationships.

“The Convergence of the Twain” is a poem about the Titanic before and after it sank. The title of the poem means the coming together of the two things. In this case the coming together of the Titanic and the iceberg.

The structure of the poem is the same all the way through, and by this I mean it has the same amount of lines and rhyming scheme in each stanza. The effect of this gives the poem more rhythm and consistency.

The poem has 11 stanzas and is separated into two sections. One sections being the 5 lines, the other section being the last six stanzas. The poem is separated into two sections because the first sections describe the Titanic at the bottom of the ocean, and the second stanza describes the Titanic before it sank.

In the first stanza it describes how the people were over confident about the Titanic and how the ship was unsinkable. They quote “Deep from human vanity” and “and the pride of life”. They’re describing the ship as beautiful and how it is unsinkable. But then in the same stanza it quotes “stilly couches she”, and this describes the Titanic lying at the bottom of the ocean, like a lying coach. The second stanza goes on about the engines. It quotes “steel chambers, late the pyres”.

This quote describes how the engines used to be full of fire and alive, but now they lay dead and full of water at the bottom of the ocean. The effect of these quotes lets the reader see everything from two different points. Where Hardy quotes ” late the pyres” the pyres are what are used at funerals to burn the bodies. This is sort of a warning about the ship and the iceberg meeting. Stanzas 3, 4 and 5 are describing the jewels and mirrors. In each stanza they mention how wonderful each garment is and also how awful they look lying at the bottom of the ocean.

Stanza 3 quotes “To glass the opulent” which means how beautiful and magnificent the mirrors looked before it sank, then it quotes ” The sea-worm crawls – grotesque, slimed, dumb indifferent”. Hardy uses a line of adjectives to describe how awful and ugly the sea-worms were. He first describes the beautiful woman looking into the mirrors, then the ugly sea-worms looking into the mirrors. In stanzas 3-5 Hardy describes each garment (jewels & mirrors) in opposites. By Hardy giving two descriptions of each garment this causes the audience/reader to see two sides of things and two sides of the story.

In the second section of the poem, Hardy describes the Titanic and how it got to the bottom of the ocean, and during the six stanzas Hardy uses specific words to create a feeling that it was ‘fate’ that made the Titanic and the iceberg collide.

Here are a few quotes that show Hardy using fate as the main subject and how he takes everything back to fate. “The immanent will”, “Prepared a sinister will”, “In shadowy silent” and “The intimate welding of their later history”. All these quotes relate to how know body knew that this amazing event was going to happen, yet it was like fate brought them together.

The Titanic sinking was a massive event in Hardy’s life and I think that he thought it was fate that brought them together.

I think that this poem is similar to some of Hardy’s other poems because they some how relate back to Hardy’s past life, it starts of happily and ends sad, and because he uses a similar rhyming scheme.

“The Rival” and “At Tea” are the last two poems that we studied. They were the shortest poems but both related back to Hardy’s past life.

“The Rival” is about a tea party that Hardy’s wife arranges. Like all of Hardy’s poems they start of happily and end sad. In this case the wife is feeling very pleased with herself at the beginning as she has a lovely house and a husband who she is showing off. She thinks that everyone is envying her for being married, but yet doesn’t know that she wasn’t his first choice. Here is a quote that shows this ” And the young wife looks in her husband’s face, And then at her guest’s, and shows in her own Her sense that she fills an envied place”. Here she feels that the guests are envied by her as she is showing her husband off.

Now here is another quote, but one that suggests she was not his first choice. “The guest sits smiling and sips her tea, And he throws her a stray glance yearningly”. This quote is showing how the guest is sitting there knowing that she was his first choice but she turned him down. He then throws her a glance still having slight feeling for her. The rhyming scheme and layout for this poem is slightly different to Hardy’s other poems. This poem has a rhyming scheme of ABABCC, where as Hardy usually only has a rhyming scheme using A and B. Although I don’t think this gives a different effect to the reader, as the contrast is the same.

“At Tea” is about Hardy constantly looking a photograph. His wife thinks he is having an affair but it is actually a picture of her from when she was a lot younger and from when they were first married. Here is a quote, which shows the husband looking at he photograph. “I determined to find out whose it was The portrait he at so, and sighed”. This quote describes how the husband keeps looking at the photograph and sighing, and his wife thinks it is of a woman whom he is having an affair with.

Then the wife decides to go looking for the photograph, but then doesn’t like what she sees when she finds it, and end up being jealous…of herself. Here are a few quotes to show this. “I searched his desk when he was away, And there was the likeness- yes my own! Taken when I was the seasons fairest, And time-lines all unknown”, “I was chafed that he loved not the me then living, But that past woman still” and “Well, such was my jealousy at last, I destroyed that face of the former me; Could you ever have dreamed the heart of woman Would work so foolishly”.

These quotes start of with the wife rummaging through his desk and finding the photo. Then she realizes that it was of her when she was younger and that he was sighing at how beautiful she was then, but then sighs at how she is now. At the end of the poem she ends up being jealous of herself and tears up the photograph. This poem gives the effect of jealousy and remorse, and wants you to feel sorry for the wife. This poem relates a lot back to Hardy’s past life as during his 1st marriage he was having an affair with his 2nd wife.

Through all the poems we read and studied I would have to say that my favourite was “At Tea”, because the woman was showing her husband off and being boastful to the other guests yet she didn’t know that she had been chosen second. I liked the idea of how Hardy throws her a “stray glance” because he still has slight feelings for her, as it gives the poem a twist.

The poem I disliked the most was “At Castle Boterel”, because I found it boring and it drowned on for too long. Even though I didn’t like it I thought it was clever how Hardy put flashbacks from his life into the poem and how he uses rhetorical questions.

Other things I like about Hardy’s poems in general is that they all show a story to themselves and all give a clear message at the end.

From reading and studying some of Hardy’s poems I have learnt that there is two sides to every story and that every story has a meaning, or sometimes a twist.

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