“Ah, Are You Digging on My Grave?”

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“Ah, Are You Digging On My Grave?”

“Ah, Are You Digging on My Grave?” was first published in the Saturday Review on September 27, 1913, then in Thomas Hardy’s 1914 collection, satires of Circumstance: Lyrics and Reveries with Miscellaneous Pieces. The poem reflects Hardy’s interest in death and events beyond everyday reality, but these subjects are presented humorously, with a strong dose of irony and satire. This treatment is somewhat unusual for Hardy, who also produced a number of more serious poems concerning death. In “Ah, Are You Digging On My Grave?” a deceased woman carries on a dialogue with an individual who is disturbing her grave site. The identity of this figure, the “digger” of the woman’s grave is unknown through the first half of the poem (Ruby 1). As the woman attempts to guess who the digger is, she reveals her desire to be remembered by various figures she was acquainted with when she was alive. In a series of ironic turns, the responses of the digger show that the woman’s acquaintances a loved one, family relatives, and a despised enemy have all forsaken her memory. Finally it is revealed that the digger is the woman’s dog, but the canine too, is unconcerned with his former mistress and is digging only so it can bury a bone. Though the poem contains a humorous tone, the picture Hardy paints is bleak. The dead are almost completely eliminated from the memory of the living and do not enjoy any form of contentment This somber outlook is typical of Hardy’s verse, which often presented a skeptical and negative view of the human condition (Ruby 1). Hardy was born in 1840 and raised in the region of Dorestshire, England, the basis for the Wessex countryside that would later appear in his fiction and poetry. He attended a local school until he was sixteen, when his mother paid a lot of money for him to be apprenticed to an architect in Dorchester. In 1862 he moved to London, where he worked as an architect, remaining there for a...
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