CRITICAL ANALYSIS/COMMENTARY ON THOMAS HARDY POETRY (PART 4)* Poems for analysis
He Never Expected Much
In Tenebris I
In Tenebris II
He Never Expected Much
This poem falls under the philosophical poetry of Hardy. It is presented as a conversation between the persona and Life as an entity, probably at the end of his life, though it is a monologue. The poem opens as a statement of confession to World that it has kept his own side of the bargain based on the promise made to him as a child, as he watches the sky (symbolic of daydreaming of different possibilities that the future holds for him.)What life has told him is that Life would never be fair. The second stanza opens on an emphatic note with the multiple repetition of the fact of the unfairness of Life. Why would the voice come from clouds and hills around? Could Life be represented in nature? According to Life, many people have either loved Life so much, while others have hated it probably based on how Life treats them till they die. Third and the last stanza opens with the voice of Life itself that it does not promise overmuch, just neutral-tinted haps and such. Luckily for the persona, he took this advice and he is saved the agony of over-expectation and disappointments.-strain and ache. Thus, Life expects man to take each situation as it comes and unfolds without expecting much from the future. Themes
The poem is built round a monologue style of an imagined conversation between the persona and World as an entity. Symbolism-sky, clouds and hills
As each year might assign
Repetition-have said (stanza 2), kept faith with me (stanza 1) Alliteration-Well, world, stem such strain.
Capitalization –World, Child
Ample use of end-stops to confer some level of seriousness and meditativeness on the poem. However, the first stanza has quite a lot of enjambments to show some level of childish freedom and playfulness compared to the heavy application of end-stops in other stanzas. Tone, Mood, Atmosphere
The atmosphere is solemn and serious. The tone is instructive and didactic as if the reader is being instructed on some lessons of life. The mood also follows the same serious trend. In Tenebris 1
The poem picks winter and explores all its negative sides as it relates to humans. The coming of winter is an experience the persona views with a sense of bereavement- pain. The first stanza ends with the resigned tone of death not being able to kill twice. The second stanza picks flower, a symbol of beauty and the impact of winter on it. The dread of winter makes flower-petals flee. The experience of severing of flowers which also translates to withering of beauty only happens once, so it does not leave much impact on the persona. The third stanza explores the impact of winter on birds which are symbolic of creative works. Birds faint in dread. The second line of I shall not lose old strength is rather significant, because it shows the virtue in experience and old age, which should not be viewed negatively, but rather positively .The confirmation of this is found in the last line of the stanza where old strength manages to escape the destructive effect of winter in strength long since fled! The forth stanza looks at leaves which are symbolic of changeability of friends’ loyalty. The consolation of the persona is that if he does not have any friend, the possibility of being betrayed by any friend is almost nil, so he is beyond the harming effect of the winter. The fifth stanza mocks the power of winter as it is compared to Tempests, which despite its power of force can only manage to scath (leave minimal impact.)If the persona does not love, the possibility of being betrayed is nil, so he is beyond the harming effect of the winter. The last stanza ends on a conclusive note as it presents winter as symbolic of death, but once again, the persona cannot be appalled by death because he does not hope for anything....
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