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Voice Thomas Hardy Essays

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Summary: Provides a detailed commentary of the poem "The Voice", by Thomas Hardy.


The poem "The voice" is a touching account of a man's sense of loss and of his difficulty to come to terms with the absence of a loved woman. The narrator, hearing the voice of the woman he loved but who is now absent from his life, addresses her directly and is led to happily and in a very touching way reminisce in the second stanza about his past with her; however, there is then a shift in tone in the third stanza, as he is brought back to earth whilst questioning the probability of really hearing this woman's voice. Finally, in the fourth stanza, we leave him struggling with his sense of loss.

The poem starts with "Woman much missed," thus immediately introducing the notion of a sense of loss. This sense of loss is not an acute pain but rather a soft ache: this impression of...

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This section contains 924 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)

View a FREE sample

Notes On "The Voice" By "Thomas Hardy". A Poem Which Is Used In As Literature: Poetry Section

Hardy was an old man of 72 when he wrote this poem recalling the early days of his first marriage, which was a happy time for him and his wife, Emma. Her death provided him with material of the deepest personal significance and the "Poems of 1912-13", from which this work came, are his most personal utterance and most typical poems - often touching, as they do, on the inexorability of time and the meaning and inevitability of suffering. His first wife changed as she grew older, however, believing that she had married beneath her, and she and her husband did not speak to each other for a long period of time. Here, hardy describes his feelings of grief at her death, and wishes they would relieve the past and be re-united. Finally, he reveals his feelings of despair and hopelessness at what life has become for him.

The first stanza begins by expressing his grief at the loss of his wife ('much missed") and his sense that she is calling out to him. The repetition of "call to me" suggests the insistent, unceasing and unwearying effort she is making to reach him - an effort which must, in reality be an indication of the strength of his longing for her rather than of her yearning for him. Her voice is a projection of his mind, the result of a mixture of his own memory, imagination and desire, but his sense that she is calling him is so powerfully felt that he almost seems to hear her speaking, at first.

He imagines his dead wife saying that she was no longer the person she had become later in life but had returned to being the person she had been in the early days of their marriage, when they were happy ("our day was fair") and she was the dearest creature in his life ("the one who was all to me").

He refers obliquely to the fact that she had become estranged from him ("you had changed from the one..."), and juxtaposes and balances it against the happiness at the beginning of their marriage (when their "day was fair") in such a way as to allow neither sentimental nostalgia nor bitterness to distort the truth. The rhythm of this stanza is fairly mellifluous and the stanza, with its run-on lines, flows and scans easily, suggesting the poet's complete acceptance of, and immersion in, the total grief that comes with uncomforted loss. The dignified restraint and simplicity of the words in the first line enhances this sense of sorrow.

The question at the beginning of the second stanza conveys his growing sense of wonder and doubt that the "sound" he hears is indeed the voice of his wife. It implies the recognition of a disparity between what he remembers of and what he wishes her to be. The imperative which follows seeks an answer, and reassurance, by requiring her to appear as she used to do when he returned from a journey and found her waiting for him. His eagerness to see her again is conveyed in the word "yes", And in his reference to a still vivid memory of a dress...

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