January 30, 2013
When closely examining Thomas Hardy’s, poem title, Neutral Tones readers easily notices the sad disposition that is conveyed within. In the first four line stanza Hardy clearly set an image in the reader’s mind that God has not looked upon his land or people favorable. This is noted when Hardy says “And the sun was white, as through chidden of God / And a few leaves lay on the starving sod. Thomas follows the pervious image with the notion that death also exist. Still in the first stanza Hardy says, they had fallen from an ash, and were gray. The notion that leaves has ‘fallen” and “gray” suggest that they are dead or that death exist. According to Samuel Hynes in his book called The Pattern of Hardy’s Poetry, he argues that, (referring to Hardy):
Certain themes and certain aspects of experience were closed to him: religion was something other people believed in, love was only available to him as a theme when it was either betrayed or past, sex was cruelty but never ecstasy, and human happiness was a delusion or a memory made bitter by the unhappy present (73).
Hardy uses just what Hynes suggest, human happiness being a delusion or memory made bitter. The first word of the poem begins with “we” readers know that Hardy is not only speaking of the condition of the land but uses his scenery as a metaphor to talk about his dissolving relationship. The diction Hardy uses is carefully selected to give readers an idea of just how much despair he feels. An example of Hardy word choice is when he uses words like “rove” and “love deceives”. Readers can almost feel his pain. To compare, Hardy uses lots of imagery to describe his hurt and pain, while A. E. Housman life losts take center to cause him despair.
Just like Hardy, another poet that writes with a similar feat but draws his melancholy from a slightly different nature is A. E. Housman. Many critic and or writers suggest that A. E. Housman writing style is a result of his life experiences. In a journal printed by Columbia University states: “He left Oxford without a degree because he had failed his final examinations. Ever afterward he was coldly reserved and aloof man, a recluse seemingly without emotional life (1). Even with that heart felt pain, Housman later proves to be an extraordnatary scholar. Today among many accomplishments, Housman is famously known for his poetry. Many agree that Housman’s poetry is known for making statements, vivid picture of the countryside, and the fusion of human and pathos. The most fascinating style of them all that Housman uses is the obsession with the passing of youth and inevitability of death”. To briefly explore some of the dark side found in Housman’s poems I will examine his poem title “With rue my heart is laden”. Reading the title to this poem he/ she are already aware of the sense of despair to come. The poem consist of two four line stanzas, the first sentence repeats the title “With rue my heart is laden”. By using these chosen words “rue” and “laden” Housman show just how melancholy he is and prepares his readers that it’s more to come. The second and third line says, for golden friends I had / for many a rose-lipt maiden. In these two verses, Housman let the readers know his friends were of the pass. He compares them to a “rose-lipt” suggesting the beauty he found within them.