Thomas Hardy and Edward Thomas are two prominent voices in Modernist Poetry.  Both poets deal with similar subjects such as love and loss.  Their verse is full of bleak memories and untimely terminations of love, life, and hope.  Though both poets have corresponding themes their tone reads differently.  This is evident within these men’s use of imagery and tone.

In “With Rue my Heart is Laden” Thomas speaks of the loss of the friends that once occupied his life.  The tone of the poem is somber and heavy with the subject matter being that of death.  There is nothing outright happy about this poem but there is a sense that all is not lost.  The poet beautifully depicts “By brooks too broad for leading/ The lightfoot boys are laid; /The rose-lipt girls are sleeping/ in field where roses fade.”

Thomas’ juxtaposition of idyllic imagery and death say much about his tone.  Though it is dark and foreboding he still manages to give the reader a semblance of beauty through aesthetically pleasing images.

On the other hand, there is nothing pleasant about Thomas Hardy’s “Neutral Tone.  There are no fields of roses or fair maidens to help the reader along, just the harshness of the winter and the chill of a dying heart.

The piece opens with, “We stood by a pond that winter day / And the sun was white, as though chidden of God” Right away the reader is struck with the stark image of the narrator’s perdition.  The very sun is washed white in a disconsolate haze of rue! Hardy describes his former loves smile as “Alive enough to have strength to die”.  ”.  The narrators tone is dry and simple. It trudges along in an almost choked strain until its inevitable end at “… a pond edged with grayish leaves.”

Though Hardy and Thomas have similar attributes they are very different in their approaches.  While Hardy stirs a sense of bitterness and contempt in the reader; Thomas has the ability to drop an inkling of hope in his dark works.  Thomas Hardy and Edward Thomas most definitely differ in tone and imagery as poets.

Douglas McKeon

 

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