HOW DO FEELINGS OF NOSTALGIA AND REGRET FEATURE IN THOMAS HARDY'S POETRY?
Feelings of nostalgia and regret are two emotions, which are clearly evident in Thomas Hardy's poetry. The writer belongs to a literary period in which the topics of the death, suffering, regret, loss, and pain are pioneering as this period is so-called, The movement of literary decadence. It is a term that it was used to refer a style of a witty distortion of the language. This kind of movement has emotional forms belonging to a movement of reflection and meditation about life. This is why poetry becomes in a place where all feelings like pain and suffering are understood in a way of evasion. Now, knowing all this factors and other ones that I will explain throughout my essay, it will be easy to understand why feelings of nostalgia and regret feature Thomas Hardy's poetry.
Things in Thomas Hardy's life were not as easy as everybody can think of. He had a difficult relationship with his first wife, Emma, because although they were deeply fallen in love with each other, they were constantly arguing. She died in 1912 and Thomas Hardy wrote some poems for her. In these poems, feelings of nostalgia, regret, and also a feeling of fault because of the loss of her overrun the soul of the poet. Some poems like `After a journey', among other ones, are dedicated to his wife as we are going to see right now:
`Yes: I have re- entered your olden haunts at last; / through the years, through the dead scenes I have tracked; / what have you now found to say of our past / scanned across the dark space wherein I have lacked you?
In this poem Thomas Hardy remembers the past where his wife was still alive and also we can focus on the topic of the nature in the poem. Time and seasons are factors where Thomas Hardy supports the idea of loss and nostalgia. `Summer gave us sweets…'. The summer, season when the sun is completely alive as the sun gives life to everything which is lighted by it (flowers, sweets, life…); On the other hand, autumn is the end of that life, that is to say, the death of his wife: `… but autumn wrought division?'. In this case the death, represented by the autumn is the cause of separation between them. Thomas Hardy knew how find the exact word `wrought' to explain the sense of the loss. It is an obvious fact, I mean, it is a verb that explain that the death of somebody cannot be optional but it is a fact, which we have to live with.
` I see what you are doing: you are leading me on / to the spots we knew when haunted here together, / the waterfall, above which the mist-bow shone / at the then fair hour in the then fair weather, / and the cave just under, with a voice still so hollow / that it
seems to call out to me from forty years ago,
In this extract, Hardy remembers his wife but also he feels guilty about the death of her. He only thinks about the good moments that they spent together, as the extract says. Another fact that points out the feeling of nostalgia is the use of a present continuous tense. He remembers her, as she was still alive: `I see what you are doing: you are leading on me'. In my opinion, I think that Thomas Hardy did not want to realise that his wife was dead. This poem represents, however, the indifference of nature and how everything has carried on as normal, despite the fact that she died. Hardy cannot understand why nature can be so indifferent to someone who cared for it so much. (Note: http:// www.courseworkbank.co.uk/coursework/thomas_hardy_
Focusing on another poem, for example, `The Going' we can take into account that the poem is for his wife as well as the last one, `After a journey'. `The Going', poem written just one month after the death of his first wife, Emma, can be another good example of the representation of feelings of nostalgia and regret. Through the whole poem he is telling that his wife is dead but also he tells that he remembers her as well as the good moments they were together. The poem has some good clues, which indicate the main thoughts of Hardy. Look at this:
`Why did you give no hint that night/ that quickly after the morrow's dawn, / and calmly, as if indifference 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!'
In this extract of the poem, he tells us that his wife is dead. He realises that she is but he is not, obviously, happy so he carries on with the poem remembering her and trying to bring her to life again. Maybe, it can be a contradiction because they were not a perfect couple, I mean, their relationship was very difficult and it could be controversial if we focus on it. Let's go to see another extract where we can analyse the feeling of nostalgia, which the poem is overrun with:
`You were she who above / by those red-veined rocks far West, / you were the swan-necked one who rode / along the beetling Beeny Crest, / and, reining nigh me, / while life unrolled us its very best.'
In this extract of the poem, Hardy looks back to the good moments of his relationship. The stanzas reflect the time when they met each other for first time. I stress that he knows that his wife is dead but she is still alive in his heads and heart, as well. The next stanza can support this: `we'll visit together those places that that once we visited', Hardy chooses the future tense to speak about something that he knows it will never happen, that is to say, he still loves her and the feeling of nostalgia involves his heart. Not only the feeling of nostalgia is featured through the whole poem, but also the feeling of regret. This can be seen in the use of the following verb: `That time's renewal? We might have said'. Perhaps, he regrets not having got on well with his wife and not having exploited the time that they were together. Maybe, this is the poem, which reflects better feeling of nostalgia and regret because it is the closest poem written to the death of his wife, just one month later.
Hardy uses his memory in order to merge the past and the present. This is enables him to still have his wife and her love by his side, because he realises that he wasted the chances he had in his life, and now regrets that. He has now become dependent on her image for support and reminders of their love and passion. Latterly in their relationship, there was little love, but Hardy shuts this out. He can therefore remind stable and happily recall the past, which can address the issue of their marriage, chances lost, his own responsibilities, which he failed to live up to and for his own sake, to lay her to rest finally and peacefully. (Note: http://www.courseworkbank.co.uk/coursework/thomas_hardy_1716)
In order to explore more about the use of the present and the past, it is suitable analyse also the last line of the poem `Your last drive': `You are past love, praise, indifference, blame'. He realises that whatever he does now is futile, as whatever he has missed out of in her life, will never come again, so he must rely on his memory to keep her.
On the other hand, followed by the pain and feeling of nostalgia, Thomas Hardy imagines his wife as if she was a ghost, a being who travels around from one place to another one. If we read carefully the following extract and analyse the content it is not difficult to see what I am saying. The extract is from the poem `I found her out there'
Yet her shade, maybe, / will creep underground / till it catch the sound / of that western sea / as it swells and sobs / where she once domiciled, / and joy in its throbs / with the heart of a child'
I will also take into account the poem `The phantom Horsewoman'. In this poem Hardy mixes mortality and immortality because of the feeling of nostalgia caused by the death of his wife.
And looks at the sands… / and what does he see when he gazes so? / of this vision of his they might say more…/ does he carry this vision of heretofore?…/ And as when first eyed
He combines states of mortality and immortality because he is alive but she is dead, nevertheless, in his memory, she lives on as immortality. He also merges past and present through the title quote:
`They say he sees an instant thing… a phantom of his own figuring' (Note: http://www.courseworkbank.co.uk/coursework/thoams_hardy_1716)
Another example of keeping his wife in his memory is the poem `At castle Botorel' in which he wants to look at his wife eternally by merging the past and the present, as we have analysed before in `The Going'
In mindless rote, has ruled from sight / the substance now, one phantom figure / remains on the slope, as when that night/ saw us alight
This memory of Hardy shows one particular event, when they were there together and enjoyed each other's company with love and tenderness. I mean, we go back to the feeling of nostalgia which Hardy involves the poem with.
Finally, to sum up, I have left to say that, maybe, he is one of the poets who knew how to express pain, suffering, and regret in the lines of a poem. However, I have to say, as well, I found contents of Hardy's poetry a little bit controversial and contradictory because whether we take into account his biography, one of the most important events in his life was his second marriage. I cannot doubt in the love for his first wife but it is a little bit strange to get marriage just two years later the death of someone so much loved. Anyway, Hardy knew how to express his feelings properly in his poems.
|Enviado por:||Alberto Peñalver|