The poem ‘During Wind and Rain’ by Thomas Hardy looks at his late wife Emma’s fond childhood memories and the contrast of what the passing of time brings. My essay will explore the devices Hardy uses to communicate the idea of passing time and what literary evidence suggests that Hardy could be deemed as a Victorian and a Modernist writer.
Thomas Hardy was interested in creating images and was regarded as a lyric poet by Wordsworth whom in the preface to The Lyrical Ballads (1798), describes as a successful poet who shows ‘the relation between the human imagination and the natural world’ Karadas (2008: 162). Hardy makes use of various figurative devices to communicate this idea: for example, in the first stanza of the poem he personifies the leaves by using the words ‘throngs’, ‘reel’ and ‘sick (line 7) suggesting the leaves have no control over death just like humans.
Hardy shows snapshots of family life, which in his undated poem The Photograph, a photograph represents, a notion of resurrection, ‘And nothing was left of the picture unsheathed from the past’ Hardy & Gibson (1976). Metaphorically, he is looking back at Emma’s past and realises time has moved on and the moments they shared together once, only exist on paper. We can assume Hardy is showing snapshots of Emma’s life in the poem During Wind and Rain, as he is an unreliable writer who describes those in the pictures as ‘he, she, all of them’ (line 2) and the events he describes can be found in Emma’s memoir entitled Some Recollections, which shares idyllic pictures of family life. “ the singing, the summer tree, their garden, the move to another house’ Paulin (1975).
The idea of bringing a picture to life is an example of what Sigmund Freud in his essay The Uncanny (1919), would call an uncanny effect “ it is in the highest degree uncanny when inanimate objects—a picture…come to life” Freud (1997) Another effect is the double, Hardy does not use past tense, instead we are given paradoxically two presents. As we cannot have two presents, we separate the past from the present. For example, ‘ change to a high new house’ (line 22) conflicts with ‘Down their carved names the rain-drop ploughs’, suggesting that moving house was a big step and is an action, which many take in their lifetime, he then presents us with the gravestone, further suggesting that the next big change for Emma after moving house was dying. Also by Hardy using present tense throughout we can see the way he processes information, this is an example of modernist writing. Modern writers include Virginia Woolf, whom uses a narrative device called a stream of consciousness. In the preface of To The Lighthouse, a stream of consciousness is regarded as a technique, which ‘catches the thoughts and feelings, the immediate perceptions, of individual experience; but the issues go beyond the personal, to concerns of philosophy, psychology and gender’ Woolf (1994).
Hardy also makes a commentary upon nature, which signifies the similarities there are between the human and natural life. The disturbing imagery Hardy uses depicts nature in a vulnerable state. For example the imagery of a powerful wind tearing the rose off the wall ‘The rotten rose is ript from the wall’ (line 21). The connotation of a rose is love but by using the words rotten and ript, the emphasis is on what has happened to the rose, not only was this rose on a wall for a long time ‘rotten’ but also was taken away by the harsh wind ‘ript’. Such description suggests the transition between life and death. Hardy’s later poem The Spell of the Rose, suggests that the rose symbolises the love that was not planted in the relationship with Emma ‘And as he planted never a rose’ (line 15) or it could be a rose left from the rose bush that Emma planted, that only flourished after she had died ‘I was called from earth—yea, called Before my rose-bush grew’. (lines 29 & 30). The imagery of spring and summer comes from the...
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