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

On one of Hardy’s most haunting poems about the past – analysed by Dr Oliver Tearle

‘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:

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

Hardy’s classic dog poem – analysed by Dr Oliver Tearle

‘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.

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A Short Analysis of Thomas Hardy’s A Pair of Blue Eyes

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873) was Tennyson’s favourite of all Thomas Hardy’s novels, and the poet Coventry Patmore (author of The Angel in the House) was enthusiastic about it, although he wished it had been written in verse. The working title for the novel was ‘A Winning Tongue Had He’ (a line from an English ballad called ‘On the Banks of Allan Water’); Hardy thought better and renamed it A Pair of Blue Eyes.

This early Hardy novel has been unfairly neglected in the Thomas Hardy oeuvre, and deserves closer attention and analysis.

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A Summary and Analysis of Thomas Hardy’s The Well-Beloved

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

Here’s a question for you. What was Thomas Hardy’s last novel? Easy, some might say: Jude the Obscure, the 1895 book whose hostile reception convinced Hardy to abandon novel-writing and return to his first love, poetry. But in fact, Jude wasn’t Hardy’s last ever novel – at least, not exactly. For in 1897, two years after Jude’s appearance, a final novel was published: The Well-Beloved. It’s an overlooked novel, but deserves more attention and analysis – not to mention a wider readership – than it tends to receive.

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