The Going by Thomas Hardy

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The Going by Thomas Hardy

By | December 2012
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The Going in part of a set of poems written by Hardy for Emma between 1912-13. All these poems are a reflection of his guilt and regret at remaining oblivious to his wife's state. The poems are attempts at redemption and attempts at trying to console himself. The Going is an accusation at Emma's untimely departure. A way for Hardy to somehow placate himself, rid himself of guilt. The title suggests an action which is contained and the coupling of 'the' with 'going' gives it a deeper edge significance. Many critics see the tone as somewhat 'maudlin'.

The poet has transitory tones of accusation, nostalgia, anguish and acceptance. It has six Septet stanzas. The rhyming scheme is ABABCCB. Alternate stanzas begin with a question although there is not regular pattern.  This structured irregularity adds to the questioning tone of the poem and makes a huge contribution to its authenticity.

The first Stanza begins with a questioning tone as Hardy refers to the last night that Emma was alive. He complains as to why she left without giving him the slightest awareness. The word 'dawn' is metaphoric for Hardy's beginning as a widower. This accusation is ironic as earlier during the day that had Emma died, Hardy had not gone to see her despite being informed by their maid of her critical condition so it had of course always been Hardy himself who was indifferent. The use of the word, 'calmly' is suggestive of his envy. Emma was now in peace. But she had left him in irreparable guilt to suffer with the consequences. He accuses her for not telling him before she left and dissipated into the universe 'where he could not follow'. This is an euphemism for death as in Christina Rosetti's poem, 'Remember' where it has been referred to as the 'Silent land'.

According to many critics, this accusatory tone was a consequence of Hardy's exasperation at having lost the chance to redeem himself. As long as Emma was alive, Hardy was placated that there was still a chance to...