The Misty Woman (3 of 3)

30458174575_4d1c3a1450_zIn my first two postings on Thomas Hardy’s poem ‘The Voice’ about his dead wife Emma’s calling to him (The Misty Woman (1 of 3), The Misty Woman 2 of 3)) I attempted to described how a very close examination of the language structures reflected not only his intense longing, but the theme of the whole poem – a woman moving in and out of his consciousness.

What I want to do in this final posting is take another closer look at another aspect of the structure of the language throughout the remainder of the whole poem and examine how that contributes (albeit subconsciously) to the meaning. Continue reading “The Misty Woman (3 of 3)”

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The Misty Woman (2 of 3)

In this poem, Hardy very few adjectives.

30458174575_4d1c3a1450_zIn my first posting on Thomas Hardy’s poem ‘The Voice’ about his dead wife Emma’s calling to him (The Misty Woman (1 of 3), I attempted to described how a close examination of the language of the first line reflected not only his intense longing, but the theme of the whole poem – a woman moving in and out of his consciousness.

What I want to do in this posting is take a closer look at one aspect of the structure of the language throughout the remainder of the whole poem and examine how that contributes (perhaps, albeit subconsciously) to the meaning.

The Voice

Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me,
Saying that now you are not as you were
When you had changed from the one who was all to me,
But as at first, when our day was fair.

Can it be you that I hear? Let me view you, then,
Standing as when I drew near to the town
Where you would wait for me: yes, as I knew you then,
Even to the original air-blue gown!

Or is it only the breeze, in its listlessness
Travelling across the wet mead to me here,
You being ever dissolved to wan wistlessness,
Heard no more again far or near?

Thus I; faltering forward,
Leaves around me falling,
Wind oozing thin through the thorn from norward,
And the woman calling. Continue reading “The Misty Woman (2 of 3)”

The Misty Woman (1 of 3)

My nickname for Hardy’s “The Voice” is “The Misty Woman”. It is a poem about a woman coming in and out of his clear recollections – about a woman moving in and out of the mist.

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In ‘The Voice’ Thomas Hardy hears his dead wife, Emma, calling to him, saying that now she is as Hardy first knew her at their meeting in March 1870 in Cornwall where Emma lived.

He questions whether it really is Emma that he hears, or is it only the breeze blowing that he mistakes for her voice.

His first wife’s death is the subject of most of the verses in Hardy’s Poems 1912-13.

The Voice

Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me,
Saying that now you are not as you were
When you had changed from the one who was all to me,
But as at first, when our day was fair.

Can it be you that I hear? Let me view you, then,
Standing as when I drew near to the town
Where you would wait for me: yes, as I knew you then,
Even to the original air-blue gown!

Or is it only the breeze, in its listlessness
Travelling across the wet mead to me here,
You being ever dissolved to wan wistlessness,
Heard no more again far or near?

Thus I; faltering forward,
Leaves around me falling,
Wind oozing thin through the thorn from norward,
And the woman calling.

I first tried to get to grips with this poem over forty years ago when I studied it for A Level English Literature.  Since then I have taught it to students studying on GCSE, A Level, and Degree courses.  In the past twenty years my academic interests have moved from literature to language.  What I want to do in a series of three postings is to show how a sharper attention to the structure of the language can enhance our understanding of the poem.

In this first post I want to devote my attention solely to the first line

Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me

Here Hardy is baring his emotion, and setting up the tension between reality and illusion that he agonises over throughout the rest of the poem.  Continue reading “The Misty Woman (1 of 3)”

In Recovery

I cried not for the physical pain …

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I cried today; I cried today; I cried.
Not for the physical pain
Or the emotional scars
From weeks in bed,
Or the mental trauma of knowing
What the surgeons had done
(With my consent)
Or the daily prodding and measuring by routine hands,
Or the critical attempts to suck blood
From swollen limbs and terrified veins;
Not for the tubes, or stitches, or suppositories,
Or the heat and sweat,
Or leaking wounds,
Or the constant, proximate reminder of ill bodies,
Or the future cloud hanging nearby –
Its menace temporarily curtailed but not destroyed;
Nor for the breathless stumbles,
Or the endless lonely nights.

 

No, today I cried
From weariness.
I cried from weariness and waiting,
From wanting to feel whole again,
From needing to sit down without having to adjust my seat,
To walk without having to consciously move my legs,
To move quickly without gasping for breath,
To stand for a while without feeling faint.
I cried today; I cried today; I cried.

Are Your Kisses Grey?

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
― Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

On the Death of Summer

Day was a bright one,
A summer, a rain –
Your kiss was a grey one,
A dying, a pain:

And earth was unending,
A round one, a ball –
But love had its ending,
The finite – the gall

Of a life-time,
A season, a year,
Like the dawn of a day-time,
The dew, and the fear

Of a noon-tide,
The parchness, the sun:
And the end of a morning,
New season begun

With a day full of boding,
A sadness, a sense
Of deep yearning
To fly through the fence,

To run back to spring-time,
The past, the old-new,
And offer this day-time,
Your kiss and you –

To mature into summer,
The love, the rich wine,
To free raging stallions
From stables of time,

Where leaves rot to nothing,
Through copper, through browns,
And heap up the doorways,
– The tombstones , the mounds –

So none can escape,
Decaying, the dust.
And autumn is charging,
So eager to thrust

Your warmth into winter,
A cold wind, a bite.
Bright day is ending –
Black horses at night

Crash into locked doors
And die.