In Thomas Hardy’s poetry, he has five common recurring themes that can be seen in his poems. These themes are:
An example of a poem that depicts themes of disappointment is ‘The Going’. Hardy constantly asks Emma his wife why she didn’t tell him or warn him about her death for example when he says, “why did you give no hint that night” , and also why she left him as if she was “indifferent quite” to his feelings, without saying goodbye to him. Hardy was very upset about her death and it changed his life. It “altered all”. Emma was giving Hardy feelings of wanting to go outside and leave his house in the hope that he would see her but he did and it was a major cause for disappointment. “The yawning blankness of the perspective sickens me!”
One poem that Hardy writes that shows themes of suffering is ‘The Voice’. In the poem, Hardy imagines that he can hear her, and he asks her to appear for him in the place that they met very early on in their relationship, and that causes suffering to him because it is all just an imagination and it will never happen because she is dead. The writer also writes, “You being ever consigned to existlessness, heard no more again far or near?” Emma does not live anymore and she is bound to non-existence which makes Hardy feel sad and upset and adds to his suffering over her death. There is also depressing scenery in the poem which reflects his feelings of sadness. “Leaves around me falling, wind oozing thin through the thorn from norward.” From the lines of this poem, the reader can see that Hardy needed Emma in his life and that he was “faltering forward” without her.
Hardy showed themes of love in his poems. For example in ‘The Going’, Hardy remembers the places that he and Emma had visited together while they were dating, and he wished that they could have gone there again to rekindle their love for each other. The writer says. “Did we not think of those days long dead, and ere your vanishing strive to seek that time’s renewal? We might have said, ‘In this bright spring weather we’ll visit together those places that once we visited.’” In ‘The Voice’, Hardy tries to remember Emma when she was at her youth and how she was beautiful up until the day she died. “Saying that now you are not as you were when you had changed from the one who was all to me, but as at first, when our day was fair.”
An example of a poem that depicts themes of fate is ‘During Wind and Rain’. In this poem, the writer contrasts the happiness of his dead wife’s childhood with the inescapable grip time has on life. “Elders and juniors” work in the garden to make “the pathways neat and the garden gay”. But then fate and time catch up to them and release their wrath and “the white storm-birds wing across.” That quote shows that a storm made by fate is coming and it is coming to upset the happy occasion. Another example of fates effect in the poem is when “they are blithely breakfasting all” and everybody is having a good time “under the summer tree” until suddenly fate comes through with a storm and “the rotten rose is ript from the wall.” The writer also speaks about them all dying and fate catching up to them when he says, “they change to a high new horse.” But even at death, fate and time are still cruel and it still affects them and makes it presence known as “down their carved names the rain-drop ploughs.”
In some of the poems written by Thomas Hardy, there are themes of war. One poem with the theme of war is ‘In Time of ‘The Breaking of Nations’’. Hardy presents the reader with three different glimpses of everyday life and he suggests that they will not change even when countries rise and fall through war and even after wars have been fought. The writer says, “Yet this will go onward the same through Dynasties pass.” Those glimpses of everyday life will never fade away, “War’s annals will cloud into night ere their story die.” That means that war history will be completely forgotten before those basic activities are forgotten.
by Ernest Mudasiru