Student Impression Papers on Hardy's nature poetry

 

Kelly Cleavenger


Kathy Delauney


Diana Eriksen

            I must admit, right off the bat, that I am not a big fan of poetry. It is most likely because I have a short attention span and would rather not sit down and analyze a poem that takes up the length of a page in a book. One thing that I did enjoy about Thomas Hardy’s poetry is for the most part, the poems were pretty up front. Obviously, there were a few I had to reread and take a few notes on to make sense of things, but most of the context is easy to understand.

            While we know that Thomas Hardy is a big fan of nature already, one thing I hadn’t realized up until today, is that he is also a big fan of birds. I could not believe the amount of poems he devotes to birds, or he makes reference to birds in. Even his poems on graveyards involve birds. I mistakenly read a few poems that were not on the list because I would look at the page number and not the title, and came across even more poems about birds. The language is beautiful though, so it wasn’t irksome.

            One thing I found very interesting about his poems, and made it not boring to read them, was his changes in patterns. He did not write each poem in the same style, but switched it up. Sometimes the poems were like a play with characters. Sometimes the poems would involve multiple characters or ideas, and each paragraph would repeat one line throughout the poem. Sometimes he would be writing as if he was a person, or a bird, or a tree. He switched it up which kept things interesting. Some poems rhymed, while others did not. This kept my focus, and mind you, that is not easy.

            Since there were a lot of poems, rather than describe things I liked or did not like or analyze each one, I am going to focus on two that really struck my interest. The first poem is on page 72 entitled, “The convergence of the Twain.” Before reading it, it struck my interest because of the subtitle mentioning the Titanic. I have always enjoyed learning about the titanic and I tend to get caught up in everything about it (but keep in mind, like probably all of you, I hated the movie, and hearing the theme song makes me want to vomit). The poem starts out describing the ship as it is now, lying miles down in the deep blue sea. It then takes a turn to describe the life on the boat, and the unknowingness of the disaster waiting to happen. The end is the actual destruction of the ship.

            Section III describes the mirrors which women used to make themselves beautiful for the ship’s dances and dinners. It shows the richness and fortune of the ship, but puts it in a solemn tense as it places the mirrors on the bottom of the sea, “Over the mirrors meant to glass the opulent the sea-worm crawls – grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent” (72). This actually reminds me of the scene in the beginning of the movie Titanic where they take the undersea voyage to look at the remains, and zoom in on a hand mirror covered in algae and what not, so it is coated in a mint green substance. He then speaks about the jewels with adorned with women which are now lying in the dark of the sea. He speaks about the people on the ship, unaware of the danger ahead. The poem concludes with a description of how the ship broke into two equal halves, or “hemispheres” and sank into the sea. I found it strange how this poem was not dated, although we know it had to have been written after 1912. The one other thing I found ironic, was Hardy mentioning that the ship became “…two halves of one August event” when the ship actually sank in April (73).

            Considering I am writing a novel, I will only mention this one quickly. “Voices from Things Growing in a Graveyard” (Page 151) also struck my interest. Each paragraph is Hardy playing the part of a dead soul. The second line in each section is the same, as is the 7th and 8th. Many poems have done this before, but Hardy takes a different stance. For each person he portrays, he turns them into whatever is growing on top of the grave. One paragraph, he is an oak tree. Another, he is laurel, etc. I found this rather funny, and actually read it aloud to my roommate. 

 


Cassie Gesecki

 In Nature's Questioning, I really liked how Hardy personified all of the things in the poem, even the inanimate objects. I thought it was really thought-provoking how he compared them to humans and their characteristics. I feel the same way about the Darkling Thrush.  I love how intimately he describes objects in nature.  Even when they aren't living he really seems to give them personality and emotion.  I remember reading this poem before and really enjoying it then too.  My only quesiton is...why was he so focused on birds?  Most of the poems that we read for today were and I was just wondering if he had a specific reason.

The Reminder on p. 63 was just fun to read.  The beat and rhyme scheme was really simple and it was also very easy to understand and picture.  He was able to paint a very sorrowful picture of this dying bird in a winter storm in just a few lines.

The Convergence was a favorite poem of mine from a while ago.  I remember spending a lot of time on it with you in class before.  I love the ending of it and how that ties in with the title.  Its just such a different and eerie perspsective of this huge disaster.  I like the way he describes God/Fate (the Immanent Will) and talks about the fate of the titanic.

Voices from Things Growing in a Chruchyard was gross.  It reminds me of a Dave Mathews song called Gravedigger.  I hate the song because the thought of naming and giving corpses voices and personalities really creeps me out.

 


 Molly Hildebrand

Except for a few notable exceptions, on the whole I think Hardy’s novels are far superior to his poetry. I know that Hardy considered himself a greater poet than novelist, and poetry in general the superior literary medium, but for myself, I greatly prefer Hardy’s novels. This impression was further solidified after reading the "nature poetry."

On the whole, I found the nature poetry to be "pretty" (relatively light, hopeful, and elegant), easily understandable, and relatively enjoyable, although not especially challenging or intellectually stimulating. I found some of the metaphors to be over-used and conventional (occasionally even trite): winter’s cold desolation and hibernation as symbolic of human emotional staleness, a colossal shipwreck illustrating nature’s indifference to human tragedy, literal decomposition as a spiritual metaphor of death giving birth to new life (the continuity of life). Similarly, I found some of the themes/poetic situations to be surprisingly conventional and uninspiring: the exuberance of animals who "know not their immortality," the freedom which nature offers compared to the constraints of society, the romantic poet’s wonder at the "cleverness of nature," the ability of man to find personal clarity while reflecting amidst the serenity of nature. However, I understand that many of these themes are considered timeless and evocative of universal emotional states; therefore, in a way, Hardy cannot be blamed for making poetic use of them. In the poems, however, Hardy’s use of these themes/metaphors seems somewhat stale and uninspiring, whereas in the novels they are evoked in an innovative way which serves to invigorate and renew them.

For example, "Shelley’s Skylark" suggests the blissful nature of a bird unaware of his own immortality. At the end, like Shelley, Hardy suggests his capacity as a poet to immortalize this bird through poetry: "and consecrate into endless time/ For it inspired a bard to win/ Ecstatic heights in thought and rhyme." Obviously Hardy is attempting to evoke the eternal sense of Shelley’s poetry, but on the whole, I find the effect uninspiring.

"The Darkling Thrush" uses tired metaphors as well, and yet I think this poem is more interesting than a great many of the others. It is also somewhat later (written 1900) and seems to show Hardy’s maturation as a poet. Stanza Two makes use of the theme of winter (external circumstance) as indicative of human emotional states: "His crypt the cloudy canopy/ The wind his death lament." Here, I think Hardy wishes to suggest that winter’s desolation both compounds a gloomy emotional state as well as acts as an appropriate metaphor of it. The poem end with a description of a "caroling" bird (which Hardy uses in other poems to suggest hope and the continuity of life). I think Hardy uses this bird ("Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew/ And I was unaware") to suggest a somewhat fresh theme in romantic nature poetry: nature holds secrets and the potential for happiness that man cannot always intellectually grasp, but perhaps can emotionally appreciate. This theme is echoed again in later poems.

"The Convergence of the Twain," although drawing upon a recycled theme, is interesting to me because of its divergent form and bleak, more modern style. Lines like "the sea-worm crawls- grotesque, slimes, dumb, indifferent" or "lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind" stand out because they are defeatist in tone and more modern in character. Finally, I find this poem interesting, because unlike the theme of man in unity with nature (or nature as a sort of divine teacher for man) evoked in many of the other poems, the last stanza suggests the disharmony of nature in conjunction with human life.

The last poem that I find interesting is "Wessex Heights." I find parts of it heavy-handed and repetitive, although I find its theme and general tone tellingly universal. The narrator seems to be walking at night (the tone seems to suggest this, even if it is not directly stated) and finds solace in the peace offered by the abandoned nighttime countryside. The narrator suggests that the land is carved for human emotion: "For thinking, dreaming, dying on..." Life eternal is evoked here: "I seem where I was before my birth, and after death my be." Hardy suggests a mystical quality about the land which elevates it from mere landscape, to a reflection of the divine, of life after death. I like how the narrator goes on the say that in human society one cannot be true to oneself (illustrating the universal theme of society’s profound ability to distort or corrupt personal character); it is only alone in the countryside, in commune with what is eternal in nature, that one can find freedom- from society, from criticism, even from love. I like this poem best out of those that we read because I think it speaks to everyone’s desire for escape in human life- a life which so often seems to offer so little real freedom.


 Laura Kiely

             Thomas Hardy’s nature poetry echoes that of the romantics like Shelley, Coleridge, and Wordsworth. He regards nature with a Buddhist-like sanctity. In “Transformations”, he describes the transformation of human beings into the natural world when he says, “A ruddy human life/ now turned to a green shoot.” He believes in this circle of life that we are born out of the earth, walk on the earth as human beings for a while, and finally become part of it once again when we die. In these poems, Hardy even the smallest of insects for they possess a knowledge far beyond that of man. We see this in “An August Midnight” when he says, “God’s humblest, they!’ I muse, Yet why?/ They know Earth-secrets that know not I”. So then who is the most humble? I believe that he thinks of members of his Victorian society as the lowest and he declares this in “Wessex Heights” by saying, “Down there they are dubious and askance; there nobody thinks as I”. He sets himself apart from the members of his society as he stands upon the heights like a hawk and looks down. The psychological darkness of this poem reminded me of Byron’s gothic ballad, “Manfred”. Hardy feels like there is no human being that he can relate to and finds himself at the top of the cliffs alone. Even in “Childhood Among the Ferns”, he describes his distaste for society and longing to roam free in nature when he asks, “Why should I have to grow to man’s estate,/ And this afar-noised World perambulate?”. Obviously, his relationship with nature is much more heightened than most human beings.

            Some of the points of view in Hardy’s poetry are quite interesting. In “Birds at Winter Nightfall”, the point of view is from birds outside looking at snowflakes. The birds describe the onset of snow as “Shutting indoors that crumb-outcaster”, referring to the human being who owns the house they nest around. In “A Bird-Scene….” the birds retire “When the inmate stirs”. It is interesting that Hardy describes the humans in these two poems as shut-ins or even someone imprisoned. To Hardy, the outside world must be freedom, and the inside of even the most comfortable, domesticated home a solitary prison. Another poem that has an attention-grabbing point of view is “Snow in the Suburbs”. First of all, the language in this poem is nothing short of delightful as he describes the personified snowflakes, “Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward”. He finishes his description of this snowy scene by describing a black cat entering the scene and then the final line is “And we take him in”. The word ‘we’ implies that he is a part of this scene, not just as a watcher, but as a participant. He is like an old tree who sits there undisturbed and unnoticed.  He best describes this role as an undisruptive watcher in the poem “I am the one”. When the doves see him, he imagines that all they say is “Oh; it’s only he.” It is as if he has a mutual respect with nature. He respects nature and in turn nature respects him. The doves know that he will not disrupt them so they just allow themselves to be viewed by this human being. He acts as a liaison between the natural and human world.

            My favorite poem in this selection is “The Convergence of the Twain”. It is just a beautiful weaving of nature and technology. It also represents the idea present in other poems of a circulation of life; that everything is from the earth and will eventually end up back in the earth again. All of the successes in engineering that the voyage of the Titanic promised came to a screeching hault when the ship met the iceberg. Hardy describes all of the extravagant riches aboard the ship as covered in crawling dumb and indifferent sea worms. Nature cares not for all that glitters in this world and they ask, “What does this vaingloriousness down here?” It is a critique on the obsession to have material possessions that members of Hardy’s society had. This poem also hints to a battle between nature (the iceberg) and Victorian society (the Titanic) in which the iceberg wins. Is Thomas Hardy hinting that we are sinners in the hands of an angry nature? (but in a much less intense way than Edwards)

            I was wondering after reading several poems describing the bleakness of winter if this was in any way related to the brief ice age that ended in the 1800’s? It might have been earlier than before Hardy wrote these poems but perhaps England was still coming out of it during Hardy’s time and these were some of the sentiments felt by Victorian society.           

 


 Liz Leis

   Hardy’s poems reminded me of Emily Dickinson’s poems, especially in their focus upon simple nature and their obviously autobiographical tone.  Hardy’s Wessex Heights seemed to be particularly telling of his own life.In the third stanza Hardy refers to entrapment within the towns; he is haunted by the ghosts of people he once knew.  The speaker of this poem is removed from the subject of the poem; this greatly parallels Hardy’s prose style of moving from expansive view to narrow view.  Hardy as omniscient speaker on the mountain, free of “mind-chains,” looks down upon Hardy in the town, seeing a Hardy that has strayed from his simple beginnings, who is unable in such an atmosphere to remain true to himself.  Hardy also speaks of the ghosts of women he has known.  Is this some admission of guilt over his ill-treatment of women?  “There is one in the railway train whenever I do not want it near, I see its profile against the pain, saying what I would not hear.”  Further, though Hardy could have meant the mountain literally, he most likely is using it has a metaphor for his own free-flying imagination.  The only place he can go to get away from people is through his own mind.  “So I am found…/Where men have never cared to haunt, nor women have walked with me/ And ghosts then keep their distance; and I know some liberty.” 

The Convergence of the Twain was an interesting poem.  Again, Hardy is bringing up the theme of fatalism.  The “Imminent Will” can refer to fate or God, some force above all else.  Hardy divides this poem into eleven stanzas, three lines each.  The lines are very regular in meter, and all of the end syllables within each stanza rhyme.  I feel that the breaks within stanzas emphasize the solemnity and sadness of the poem.  They cause the reader to pause and think about the preceding lines.  Even when Hardy is discussing objects, such as the ship and the iceburg, he seems to be philosophizing about life.  He can’t get away from that!  Through the lines you can see him talking about people as well as events, “No mortal eye could see/ the intimate welding of their history/ or sign that they were bent/ by paths coincident/ On being anon two halves of one august event/ Till the Spinner of the Years/ Said “Now!” And each one hears/ And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.” 

Taking a much more technical view of A Backward Spring, I was struck by the alliteration in the text: “gray where gouged,” primrose pants in his heedless push,” never to ruminate on or remember.”  Hardy personifies nature in many of his poems.  In this one for example, the trees are afraid, the grass is timid and winds are sour.  This is indicative of his own identification of himself in nature.  (Another example of this is I am the One.  The animals/stars around him are not bothered by his intrusion because “He is one with us/ Beginning and end.”)  Hardy cannot move away from description within his work.  His poems paint a beautiful picture of nature.  In Winter in Durnover Field, Hardy goes so far as to include a blurb describing the scene of the poem.  Though the poems are lovely they are fairly pessimistic.  He speaks a good deal about everything returning to dust, nothing being as it once was; the theme of life and nature coming full circle. 

 


 Mandy Magruder

     I admit to not being a great analyzer of poetry, which is why I am so glad that Hardy’s love of Nature is so obvious in all of these poems. Hardy, in many of the earlier poems, makes it so clear that he feels that animals have such a better lifestyle than humans.  They know things by instinct of which we could never even conceive.  For example, in “The Darkling Thrush,”  the weather is awful, but the speaker hears a bird singing and concludes that the bird must know of “Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew/And I was unaware.”  I just really like the faith that Hardy/the speaker shows in hearing the bird’s song; clearly, he is more in tune with Nature than most people because the song of the bird affects him and gives him some hope.  Similarly, in “An August Midnight,” the speaker is reading and four insects go on the page that he is reading. Like the bird, these bugs “know Earth-secrets that know now I.”  Because they are in Nature, the insects and birds and other animals seem to be on a higher plane of knowledge than any human could be. [As a slightly random aside, these poems have, for me, completely disproved Rosemarie Morgan’s theory that Gabriel Oak could be seen in a negative light in FFMC.  Hardy clearly values the knowledge of Nature with which Oak seemed to be so completely in tuned, and I just don’t see him giving that great knowledge to a peeping Tom who is obsessed with money.]

In another instance, Hardy’s speaker sees a bird outside again, but this time, it depresses him more than uplifts him.  “The Reminder” struck me because I suppose I was thinking that it was yet another bird, and the speaker was going to yet again, say how much better off the bird was than the man.  In this poem, the bird is a sort of unwitting moralizer, letting the speaker know that however happy he is, the bird is out at Christmas in the freezing cold, struggling for food. [I know we’re not reading Jude the Obscure for this class, but when I’ve read it, I always loved how kind Jude was to animals and how he took care of them and didn’t let his higher status on the food chain treat even worms with careless cruelty, and this poem took me back to Jude’s attitude.]

I’ve read “Convergence of the Twain” for a survey class, and never really thought of it as a “nature poem,” obviously because the Titanic was one of the biggest man-made objects ever. However, re-reading it, in the context of a nature poem, made it more obvious.  I like this poem, mostly because I like the idea that Nature will let man do many things, but if he gets too confident in his “Pride of Life” in trying to make such a colossal thing such as the Titanic, Nature will stop him from being a success.  I also noted in “Convergence” the fatalism that we’ve seen in UTGT and FFMC, and which is very apparent to me when I’ve read Tess of the D’Urbervilles.  Hardy makes note of both “The Immanent Will” and the “the Spinner of the Years.”  I suppose the main theme or idea of this poem is that “humans shouldn’t get cocky, or Nature/God/Fate will make sure it comes back to bite you in the ass.”  I think my favorite stanza is:

             “Over the mirrors meant

                To glass the opulent

    The sea-worm crawls – grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.”

 I just really like the image that comes from reading those lines; a mirror (an apt sign of vanity and pride if ever there was one) that was intended to let the rich and beautiful look at themselves is now being defaced, as it were, by a worm – one of the lowest life-forms.

 


 John Oliphant

 I really enjoyed looking at some of Hardy's nature poetry. He seemed to be a very good poet and was as adept at this art, as he was at that of writing fiction. Hardy seems to be one of the only writers who could do both equally well. The nature poems seemed to be quite different from poems on the same subject written by different poets. Hardy is definitely not a romantic, he is not like Wordsworth or Shelley-it is not all daffodils and the beauty of nature, how it's lasts, inspires one, and should be celebrated. Nature can be depressing as hell at times, be rather bleak, and can depress the writer. He seems to have an ambivelent attitude towards it, it is not at the Wordsworthian extreme, but nor is it at some dark extreme. In some of his poems he seems to envy nature or to be upset by it, while in others he seems to really enjoy it. Hardy also uses his meditations on natural scenes to contemplate serious issues, such as life itself. In Shelley's Skylark he discusses how while a romantic poet may have been inspired by a bird, to write a truly beautiful poem-but Hardy is not inspired by the object itself, but by thoughts on how it inspired Shelley and he celebrates this aspect of the event-that the skylark inspired the poet and in return it should be celebrated. The text and it's inspiration deserve the same awe or respect, well at least according to Hardy. This respect for nature is evident in other poems, such as An August Midnight, when he thinks about how even humble creatures know these profound truths which man does not. Hardy also uses nature as a springboard for thoughts on its' cruelety or on death. The Puzzled Game Birds-they are puzzled because the people around them are not the same as the one's they once knew. Durnover field-the frost has covered over the grain and birds cannot survive. This is far more realistic than a poem by Shelley-nature is not always great, for it is cruel and creatures do suffer as a result of it's actions. Hardy is affected by the suffering he observes in nature, even though he does not welcome this, he seems to curse the bird in The Reminder that has made him think of how cruel and bleak life is on Christmas, a day he wanted to enjoy. In the Selfsame Song he thinks about his own mortality and the fact that while nature seems to be the same-the trees remain and birds sing the same song-he also realizes that it is not the same bird that he once heard years ago, for he is no longer among the living. Voices from Things Growing in a Churchyard reminded me of Gray's poem on the same subject. A poem about those who lie buried, told from thier perspective-which gives one a sense of what they were in life and now are in death. This is an interesting poem, but in my opinion some of Hardy's other poems on nature are far better. Childhood Among the Ferns was a poem which I really did enjoy. In it one is given a sense of the Wordsworthian view of nature. This shows that Hardy's perspective on this issue was not crystal clear-he could write of it's glory and of it's reality. He looks at how beautiful nature appeared to an innocent child, who felt content there-would gladly spend his life there, but at it's conclusion he seems to hate recognizing the fact that he will grow and have to live in the real world-where it will not be possible for him to see nature in the same manner or to even return to the life he once sought.

 


 Chris Osborne

 

Overall I found the poems to be relatively easy to grasp, the diction and metaphors were of no particular problem, however I did feel that the form in which Hardy presents his work follows no distinct pattern or reason indicative to a singular work.  The constantly changing form of his verses gave me problems after awhile because I was not sure how to read them, visually they bothered me.  Some poems were in a form which I had never seen before, like "A Winter in Durnover Field", the use of a setting paragraph before the initial text I thought to be very odd and unusual and if anything detracted from one of the purposes of poetry which I believe is to come to the conclusions of setting, mood, and character through inference while reading the work itself, not by having the author set the tone in a disclaimer.  It is almost insulting to the reader to have such a side note from the author setting the scene, is he to suggest that we would not be able to come to the conclusion of the setting without his help?  This is somewhat reflective of Hardy's propensity to over emphasize/explain details in his novel's.  I am not sure which poet I would compare Hardy to, he seems to possess a style and presentation of his work that is all his own, whether you like it or not, it is in the very least unique and singular to Hardy.  The poems however were good despite my liking in their presentation, the language was beautiful and the images vivid, but I still get caught up on the physical presentations of the work which inevitably detracts from my overall appreciation. 

 


Elizabeth Phelan

             Well, to be honest I don’t think I truly enjoy reading poetry. I have always struggled with interpretations of poems.  I would much rather sit down and read a novel any day than try to figure out the meaning of a poem; however, I didn’t struggle through Hardy’s poems as much as I thought I would.  When I heard we were going to be reading Hardy’s nature poems I immediately thought that they were going to be long rambling poems with heavy descriptions of nature like you often get in his novels I found this not to be the case.  I enjoyed some of Hardy’s poems definitely not all, but some.

            All of his poems had some sort of rhyming pattern which made them flow really well, but that was about all I found them all to have in common except of course that they all were about the same subject matter: nature. Many of the poems were very intense and powerful as well, but as I said before I have always had a hard time interpreting poems so reading Hardy’s poems gave me problems.  I never know if you are suppose to take a poem for what it is or do all poems have deeper meanings? For instance Birds at Winter Nightfall does that have a deeper meaning or is it truly about the birds.

            One poem that I think I understood and therefore really enjoyed is The Reminder.  This poem talks about Christmas time and a starving bird outside and how that bird puts a damper on everyone’s Christmas because they notice him.  I feel like this poem talks about how even on the most joyful days people have to remember that there is misery in the world.  That is what I feel, but maybe I am reading too much into the poem and thinking there is a hidden meaning when there really isn’t.  Overall, I really didn’t mind reading Hardy’s poems I even enjoyed reading some of them, but I think I would still rather read a novel because it has plot and is much more straightforward than poems.

 


 Adam Spillman

I'm torn on Hardy's poetry. I like the philosophical side of it. His poetry on war and death and afterlife is excellent. Stanzas like the following I like a lot: 

Has some Vast Imbecility,

Mighty to build and blend,

But impotent to tend,

Framed us in jest, and left us now to hapazardry?

Really good. I like the questioning God, existence, etc. It's much more interesting than waiting to find out who the beautiful heroine will finally end up marrying. I remember from a previous class you talking about how Hardy was an agnostic and struggled with his desire / inability to rationalize a firm belief in the afterlife. He hopes there's something more than just the day-to-day crap followed by an enternity of nothingness, buuuut he doesn't quite buy into the whole blind faith business. It's interesting. Better than melodrama.

     BUT, a lot of these rhymes seem really forced. I know this was a little before the time of people like Eliot and Plath, who completely reshaped what we always thought of poetry. Still, it's depressing that, in "I am the one", the "wet-eyed mourners... As in train they pass" had to pass "Along the grass" or else "With much class" or maybe "With twitching ass". It's so limiting, and a lot of times predictable. Just a criticism. I mostly like his poetry much more than his novels. But what would one of my impression papers be without some nasty criticism.

 


 Danielle Therrien 

Hardy's nature poetry does not seem all that different from the novels we have read so far in that many of his themes are consistent. He puts a lot of emphasis on forming a painting of the rural landscape he is describing, which is impressive to me because I personally would be able to create those scenes only through prose writing. Novels allow much more room for description, and Hardy makes ample use of this by writing paragraphs upon paragraphs describing the setting. Making similar images just as clear through poetry is extremely difficult in my opinion, yet Hardy seems to accomplish this with ease. The first stanza of "The Darkling Thrush" is an excellent example of this. The description of a lone man leaning on a gate "When frost was spectre-grey, / And Winter's dregs made desolate / The weakening eye of day" reminds me of Christmas, as I'm sure was Hardy's intention considering his reference to caroling (1-3). I picture small, rolling hills spotted by a few scattered houses with smoke escaping from "their household fires", which evokes feelings of warmth and security along with the song of the thrush, in contrast with the cold hardness of the earth (8). He accomplishes beautiful imagery again in "Voices from Things Growing in a Churchyard." The poem jumps from grave to grave, describing what vegetation has come from it; daisies, oak, berries, vines, ivy. By the end of the poem, we can picture the whole graveyard and it is described in such a way that although it is still eerie, it is a beautiful sight to behold.

He accomplishes a concept in "Churchyard" that seems very Wordsworthian to me. The idea of new growth where death has occurred is an observation of the cyclical nature of life. The plants that grow from these graves are significant because they seem to say something about the person who was buried there. For instance, Lady Gertrude's spirit is in the veins of her laurel, "and my leaves now shine, / As did my satins superfine" (29-30). Even if we did not have her name, we would have known she was a woman of wealth because she owned satins and grew into a graceful looking laurel in death. Hardy focuses even more closely on the cycle of life in "Transformations" where he speculates the source of the soul in a small patch of vegetation. This is a beautiful image of death because lost loved ones are not gone and buried to Hardy, but are reborn lovely and full of life. A tree becomes a man, and the branch his wife; a "fair girl" becomes a rose, and all of these people experience the "sun and rain, / And the energy again / That made them what they were!" (10, 16-8). Hardy's use of imagery and the theme of cyclical life tie into his deep rural connection and understanding that man and nature are bonded. He reflects this concept in his novels with characters like Gabriel Oak who have an awareness of nature that he seems to envy, and his poetry not only conveys these concepts, but asks questions such as why does nature seems to have an ultimate wisdom that man cannot comprehend.