There are many recurring themes in Thomas Hardy’s poetry, but a few main themes are:
- Disappointment and Suffering
Two examples of Hardy’s poems with disappointment and suffering are ‘Neutral Tones’ and ‘I Look into My Glass’. In ‘Neutral Tones’ the writer is looking back at a woman he has fallen out of love with. Love would be another recurring theme throughout this poem, but it is the disappointment that the writer is getting from falling in love. It is a broken love affair. One line that describes the broken love affair is, ‘Over tedious riddles solved years ago’. In ‘I look into My Glass’ the writer is recalling his age and the time that is passing. The idea of ageing is therefore disappointing and it is a rather depressing poem. A line in this poem describing the writer’s ageing is, ‘And view my wasting skin’.
An example with the theme of war is ‘Drummer Hodge’ which is in fact one of Hardy’s most famous poems. There are only a few poems of his with the theme of war. One main feature of this poem is the meter used, which creates a gentle drum beat to commemorate what Drummer Hodge did during the war. Hardy, in his poems with war themes, presents the people as having little control over their fate, so fate is also another theme throughout this poem.
A poem with the theme of nature is ‘The Darkling Thrush’, which is recalling the death of an old century/generation and the beginning of a new one. The thrush is meant to represent this new century, but the irony involved is the fact that this thrush is of an old generation surviving through this change. A line to emphasise the thrush’s age in the new century is, ‘An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small’.An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small
The theme of love occurs in many of Hardy’s poems, but two examples are ‘The Pine Planters’ and ‘On the Departure Platform’. ‘The Pine Planters’ is based on The Woodlanders, one of Hardy’s novels, which includes in it Marty South’s love for Giles Winterborne. Marty is in love with Giles, but unfortunately not the other way around too. They both work in the woods together, every day. ‘On the Departure Platform’ recalls of a woman of the past yet again, and the separation between the writer and his lover. There is definitely a similarity between his love themed poems, and Hardy is not one to share his emotions.
Fate is a theme which is most obvious in ‘The Convergence of the Twain’. The idea is that the iceberg and ‘The Titanic’ were built for each other so that one day they could converge, ‘In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too’In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too. The sinking of ‘The Titanic’ occurred in April 1912. Hardy thinks that “fate governs us”, and is waiting for us, which is one of the reasons it is a recurring theme throughout his work.
By Laura Kendall