by: Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
E stood by a pond that winter day,
And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod,
--They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.
Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove
Over tedious riddles solved years ago;
And some words played between us to and fro--
On which lost the more by our love.
The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
Alive enough to have strength to die;
And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
Like an ominous bird a-wing….
Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,
And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree,
And a pond edged with grayish leaves.
Thomas Hardy has left this poemfor his readers to interpret in many different angles and perspectives due to its \'Neutral Tones\'. Therefore, the idea of bringing together many interpreations as one could in fact bring the poem alive, as it is already seen \'dead\'. However, the fact that it is called Neutral Tones could perhaps suggest that Hardy was going through a point in his life where he felt a decline in everything. This is because he mentions love, religion, life and tries to signify that life itself is ongoing, and things come and go in life, but you have to accept it even though as hard as it may seem to accept, God has given us life , but to him it feels as if he sees life as dead. Another interpretation of this poem could also be that Hardy is referring to the afterlife, the Hereafter, because he was quite religious from a young age, and quite afew monotheistic religions beleive that life after death is ongoing, because your either in Heaven or Hell, but the life is forever, where this life is as if we are dead, and we are to wake up to the heareafter. This is evident in the last stanza, the last line \' And a Pond edged with Greyish leaves\', because it shows how death and the hereafter is inevitable, but it seems that Hardy is perhaps questioning God\'s reason for this, because the fact that he writes \'greyish\' portrays again the neutral vibe the poem gives us. Lastly, in the first stanza, Hardy writes \'the sun was white\', which lathough some could interpet as lifeless, could infact mean that when you stare at the sun, all you see is white light and it blinds your eye, and could refer again to destiny and the presence of God, and could show that this means there is an hereafter, in contrast to \'ash\' and \'grey\' because that shows the deadness and the shortness of this life, and the sun itself is circular, but we are blind to it in reality, because in pictures, the sun is round, but when we look at it is hard to tell the shape due to its blinding quality and iuts brightness...maybe that is the light of God....but Hardy could be questioning religion and God\'s test he gives to people in this life...
| Posted on 2011-08-17 | by a guest
Neutral Tones suggests an exploration of the slow ending of relationship.Hardy is very accepting of the decline, yet also regretful. The emotional intensity of the poem doesn\'t come from any particularly emotive language, but in fact the lack of it, the detachment plaguing the speakers attitude seems to be the most shocking aspect of the poem. The poem semms to be preparing for an end through the weather (\"winter day\"), the setting (\"starving sod\"), the dull lexis choices (\"stood\", \"gray\") and the monotmous rhythm. The poem arguably gives the reader a sense of the spiraling nature of the relationship. The abba rhyme scheme ends each of the four stanzas on the same rhyme they started on. The words \"gray\", \"pond\" and \"God\" are repeated from the first stanza to the last stanza giving \'Neutral Tones\' a circlic quality. Hardy uses shocking meataphor and imagery to symbolises the decline of the described relationship. He desicribes her smile as \"the deadest thing/ alive enough to have the strength to...
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