A Short Analysis of Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Voice’

A classic Hardy poem analysed by Dr Oliver Tearle

Thomas Hardy and his first wife, Emma, had long been estranged when she died in 1912; but her death prompted a series of poems by Hardy which are viewed as being among his best work. The ‘Poems of 1912-13’ see Thomas Hardy revisiting his early courtship and marriage, knowing that those times – and the woman with whom he shared those memories – will never return.

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A Short Analysis of Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Walk’

A commentary on one of Hardy’s Poems of 1912-13 – by Dr Oliver Tearle

Thomas Hardy’s poetry is full of negation, negatives, nots, ‘un-’ words, and missed opportunities. ‘A Broken Appointment’ is one such example. And ‘The Walk’, one of the celebrated ‘Poems of 1912-13’ which Hardy composed in the wake of his first wife’s death, is replete with ‘nots’. Like many Thomas Hardy poems, the language is simple and clear, yet a few words of analysis reveal the subtler aspects of Hardy’s style.

The Walk

You did not walk with me
Of late to the hill-top tree
By the gated ways,
As in earlier days;
You were weak and lame,
So you never came,
And I went alone, and I did not mind,
Not thinking of you as left behind.

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A Short Analysis of Thomas Hardy’s ‘Afterwards’

A classic Hardy poem – analysed by Dr Oliver Tearle

‘Afterwards’ is one of Thomas Hardy’s most famous and widely anthologised poems. The poem was published in Hardy’s 1917 volume Moments of Vision. Like many of Hardy’s poems, it has received relatively little critical analysis – little when we consider that Hardy is thought of as one of the major writers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,
And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,
‘He was a man who used to notice such things’?

If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid’s soundless blink,
The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight
Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think,
‘To him this must have been a familiar sight.’

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A Short Analysis of Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Going’

A classic Hardy poem – analysed by Dr Oliver Tearle

‘The Going’ is one of Thomas Hardy’s great ‘Poems of 1912-13’, written in the wake of the death of his first wife, Emma, from whom Hardy had been estranged for a number of years prior to her death in 1912. Like many of Hardy’s other poems written at this time, it is a moving and powerful account of personal grief, and worthy of some close analysis.

The Going

Why did you give no hint that night
That quickly after the morrow’s dawn,
And calmly, as if indifferent quite,
You would close your term here, up and be gone
Where I could not follow
With wing of swallow
To gain one glimpse of you ever anon!

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A Short Analysis of Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Oxen’

A critical reading of Hardy’s celebrated Christmas poem – by Dr Oliver Tearle

‘The Oxen’ was published on Christmas Eve 1915 in The Times. It is one of Thomas Hardy’s best-loved poems, often anthologised. Below is ‘The Oxen’ with a few words of analysis.

The Oxen

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
‘Now they are all on their knees,’
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

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