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A Short Analysis of Thomas Hardy’s ‘Beeny Cliff’

On one of Hardy’s classic ‘Poems of 1912-13’

‘Beeny Cliff’ is one of Thomas Hardy’s best-loved poems, and belongs to the ‘Poems of 1912-13’ which he wrote in the wake of the death of his first wife, Emma. Although he and Emma had been estranged for many years when she died, her death provoked Hardy to revisit his memories of their life together and to pen some of the finest poems about loss and longing in the English language. ‘Beeny Cliff’, which deserves closer analysis than it usually receives, is one such poem.

Beeny Cliff

O the opal and the sapphire of that wandering western sea,
And the woman riding high above with bright hair flapping free –
The woman whom I loved so, and who loyally loved me.

The pale mews plained below us, and the waves seemed far away
In a nether sky, engrossed in saying their ceaseless babbling say,
As we laughed light-heartedly aloft on that clear-sunned March day.

A little cloud then cloaked us, and there flew an irised rain,
And the Atlantic dyed its levels with a dull misfeatured stain,
And then the sun burst out again, and purples prinked the main. Read the rest of this entry

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A Short Analysis of Thomas Hardy’s ‘A Spellbound Palace’

On one of Hardy’s most haunting poems about the past

‘A Spellbound Palace’ is not one of Thomas Hardy’s best-known poems, but in our opinion it is one of his best. Focusing on Hampton Court Palace on the River Thames, and summoning memories of Tudor England during the time of Cardinal Wolsey and King Henry VIII, ‘A Spellbound Palace’ is a moody and evocative poem that deserves more critical attention than it has received.

A Spellbound Palace
(Hampton Court)

On this kindly yellow day of mild low-travelling winter sun
The stirless depths of the yews
Are vague with misty blues:
Across the spacious pathways stretching spires of shadow run,
And the wind-gnawed walls of ancient brick are fired vermilion.

Two or three early sanguine finches tune
Some tentative strains, to be enlarged by May or June: Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Thomas Hardy’s ‘A Popular Personage at Home’

Hardy’s classic dog poem

‘A Popular Personage at Home’ was one of two poems Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) wrote about his beloved dog of 13 years, Wessex, who died in 1926, two years before Hardy himself. However, what makes ‘A Popular Personage at Home’ especially notable is that Hardy wrote the poem from the perspective of the dog, allowing ‘Wessex’ to speak for himself.

A Popular Personage at Home

‘I live here: “Wessex” is my name:
I am a dog known rather well:
I guard the house but how that came
To be my whim I cannot tell.

‘With a leap and a heart elate I go
At the end of an hour’s expectancy
To take a walk of a mile or so
With the folk I let live here with me. Read the rest of this entry