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Thomas Hardy

In: English and Literature

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Rasheed Juan
January 27th, 2014 Literature in English: American Poetry Hardy’s Poetry Presents the World as Terrible According to one of the Thomas Hardy’s autobiography, he presents a picture of himself as a sensitive young man who attended church regularly and believed in a personal God who ruled the universe. Then when Hardy went to London in his early twenties and discovered such intellectual ferment as caused by Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species by Means and Natural Selection” (1859), Hardy then lost his faith and never recovered it. Hardy then began to see the world without any ruler or God. He started to think this is why the world is so wretched and terrible because there is no sovereign ruler that could prevent bad episodes from occurring and causing the people of the world to suffer. Thomas Hardy as a poem writer then presented the world as terrible, with the messages that he entailed. After a read into each of his poems during that era, it does appear that the verses expressed the world to be very depressing and utterly unsettling; these poems include “Hap”, “To an Unborn Pauper Child”, “The Man He Killed” and “God’s Education”.
The poem “Hap” is a negative poem in tone where Hardy examines how easily joy is taken from his life and the randomness of its elimination, this is suggesting a chaos of pain and suffering. The pessimist tone begins from the start of the poem where Hardy mentions “if but some vengeful god would call to me,”(V-L1) notice the lack of a capital “G” hinting the lack of faith in a greater being. We also discover that the poet’s life is composed of suffering, sorrow and love’s loss. Hardy uses direct speech to create the personality of this suggested “god” who claims “know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy”(V-L3) and “thy love’s loss is my hate’s profiting!”(V-L4) The exclamation mark reinforces the enjoyment this god is receiving from the power he wields. Hardy finds comfort in the idea that his unhappiness is not his fault, but the result of an external force as he would be “half eased” by this knowledge. Then states this is not the case “but not so” and also uses some imagery like “joy lies slain” and “why unblooms the best hope ever sown” which shows the doubt is overwhelming. Hardy dislikes the fact that joy does not last and that it is replaced by pain without thought or plan. This is a state that he is struggling to accept, but realizes he can do nothing to change the way the world is.
In reading the poem called “To an Unborn Pauper Child”, here Hardy considers the probable fate of a child soon to be born into poverty. The poem begins startlingly with an opening line in which Hardy addresses the child as “Breath not, hid heart:cease silently,”(V-L1) because it is as yet unborn in its mother's womb, Hardy advises it not to be born. The rest of the verse gives Hardy's reason for this advice. It is better to "Sleep the long sleep"(V-L3) because destiny "The Doomsters heap"(V-L4) will bring the child troubles and difficulties. "Travails and teens around us here"(V-L5) in its life, and "Time-wraiths turn our songsingings to fear", that is our spontaneous feelings of joy and happiness in life which are turned to fear by time. In the second stanza, Hardy develops the idea of the destructiveness of time urging the child to listen to how people surge and sigh, and to note how all such natural positive values as laughter, hopes, faiths, affections and enthusiasms are destroyed by time. Set against these positive nouns are negative verbs suggesting this withering process: "sigh", "fail", "die", "dwindle", "waste", "numb". The verse concludes by stressing that the child cannot change this route if it is born. In the third stanza, Hardy vows that if he were able to communicate with the unborn before its life on earth began, and if the child were able to choose whether to live or die, he would impart all his knowledge to the child and ask it if it would take life as it is. This poem really is being informative to its readers that life is so terrible, he would go to his own efforts to try prevent an unborn child not to be born, due to what the world has awaiting for him/her that will cause torment in his/her life.
After reading the poem “The Man He Killed,” in the first verse the narrator establishes the common ground between himself and his victim: in more favorable circumstances they could have shared hospitality together. This idea is in striking difference to that in the second verse: the circumstances in which the men did meet. "But ranged as infantry"(V2-L1) suggests that the men are not natural foes, but have been "ranged," set against each other. The phrase "I shot at him as he at me,"(V2-L3) shows the similarity of their situations in the war. The real reason for the victim's enlistment in the army, like the narrator's, is far from being connected with patriotic ideals and belief in his country's cause. The soldier's joining was partly unusual ("Off-hand like-just as I"(V4-L2) and partly the result of economic necessity: he was unemployed and had already sold off his possessions. He did not enlist for any other reason. The narrator concludes with a repetition of the contrast between his treatment of the man he killed and how he might have shared hospitality with him in other circumstances, or even been ready to extend charity to him, introduce this with the statement that war is "Yes; quaint and curious war is", as if to say, a funny old thing. This tends to show war as harmless and acceptable, but the events narrated in the poem, as well as the reader's general knowledge of war, make it clear that conflict is far from "quaint and curious" and Hardy employs the terms with heavy irony, knowing full well how inaccurate such a description really is.

This is a rather bitter poem showing the stupidity of war, and the demolishing belief in the patriotic motives of those who confront one another in battle. The narrator finds no good reason for his action; Hardy implies that there is no good reason.
In the poem of “God’s Education,” Hardy recounts the death of a loved one, and his subsequent argument with God over her death “why do you serve her so?” Hardy is simply asking “God” why is he making her old? “Do you, for some day,”(V3-L2) “Hoard these her sweets”(V3-L3) and is he saving her colors, full of spirit and attraction for the future. God response to him and says it is just time that causes one to get old and her once beautiful features are thrown away. At the end of the conversation hardy expresses the that mankind is “the teaching mind!” of its creator. The lesson that he has learned at the end of his experience is that God is essentially indifferent to man’s suffering and even man’s ultimate death does not impact on God in any significant way.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that Thomas Hardy presented the world as terrible in his poems, the four mentioned. He had his own life experiences, which he used to give us reasons in his poems that were evident to him, seen as dreadful. The four poems that depicted the terrible aspect of the world, came from different perspectives. “Hap” simply world provides us with problems that we face regularly, one moment we are happy and the next moment we are in pain, without thought or plan. “The Unpauper Child” basically an unborn child that is not wanted to be brought into this cruel, cold world to be another of its victims and encounter suffering. “The Man he Killed” speaks of war and how it will always cause pain and death, which also makes the terrible world. “God’s Education” everyone has to die, if conflict is not the factor then time is, slowly but surely.

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