‘The Going’ and ‘The Voice’ Are two Poems written by Poet and novelist Thomas Hardy that appear to share a close association, they were both written shortly after the unexpected death of his wife, Emma in 1912. Both poems are extremely personal and powerful in exploring the guilt he feels about the unhappy marriage him and his wife shared before her death. Both poems are written in first person, Hardy evidently being the speaker. In ‘The Going’, he uses a monologue style, in my opinion addressing Emma. He constantly questions her throughout the poem hoping to receive a response. Unlike ‘The Voice’ where Hardy imagines Emma trying to communicate with him, he imagines hearing Emma talking to him, but he still is unsure whether it’s her voice he is in fact hearing. ‘Why did you give no hint that night’, (Hardy, 1912,154). Hardy appears to be questioning his wife. He tries to find reasons that led to their failed marriage and how it was possible she didn’t inform him, ‘Of the perspective sickens me!(ibid) We see him attempting to understand the events building up to her death, trying to come to terms with what happened. The constant use of the word ‘why’ repeated alternately in each stanza, gives readers the idea that Hardy genuinely was in disbelief that he was so unaware that his wife was unwell. He feels guilty and regrets how he was so oblivious; trying to remember back to the latter years of their marriage, if there was anything that could explain how this happened. In contrast to ‘The Voice’, here the words ‘call to me, call to me’ (Hardy, 1912,163). are used referring to his wife in fact calling and talking to him.
Hardy uses several narrative techniques in ‘The Going’ as he tells the story of their relationship, asking Emma why she did not alert him to her sudden death, ‘Never to bid good-bye’,(Hardy,1912 ,154). not even having the chance to say good bye to her. ‘No soul foreseeing-’(ibid).It is as if he is saying no one could have guessed what event was to happen. He was so unaware, and explains how it ‘altered all’. ‘The Voice’ sees Emma telling Hardy she was not the woman she had become towards the later years of their marriage, but how she regained her beauty and talks of the time, ‘when our day was fair’(Hardy,1912,162). Referring to the happier times they shared earlier on their marriage.
‘The Voice’ appears to begin optimistically with a hope that Emma is actually alive and addressing Hardy, but towards the end we see the mood change as this hope turns into the questions if the voice is in fact only imaginary. The anapaestic meter helps create the initial hope. The mood suddenly changes in the last stanzas with use of stronger phrases. ‘Ever dissolved’ (Hardy, 1912, 163).and ‘no more again’(ibid) in the stanza's final line, which give of a slightly pessimistic tone. Similar as the tone we see in ‘The Voice’, the poem centres on the regret and sorrow caused by the death of Emma. Throughout the poem Hardy’s emotions are obvious and genuine. He is successful in displaying the grief he feeling, ‘Why then latterly did we not speak, did we not think of those days long dead’, he regrets not attempting to rekindle their marriage. In ‘The Going’ similarly there is also a significant change in mood in the fourth stanza. Hardy reminds himself of the happier time in his earlier days with his Emma when she was alive. He remembers details, she lived ‘by those red-veined rocks far West,’ and she was part of the “very best”(Hardy,1912,154). while “Life unrolled” (ibid)
The rhyming schemes in both poems are surprisingly refreshing. ‘The Voice’ begins with a lively anapaestic metre, appearing in the first three stanzas of the poem, however, the sudden change in the last stanza creates a bleaker mood as Hardy begins to realize it is his imagination. Like the metre in ‘The Going’ which is also surprisingly lively, there is a constant rhyming couplet present in the penultimate two lines of...
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