Tag Archives: thomas hardy

10 of the Most Accessible Poets in English Literature

On 30 May, the blog Interesting Literature published a post entitled “10 of the most accessible poets in English Literature”, https://wp.me/p2WHCx-5Bm.

Amongst the poets mentioned are some of my own favourites, including Philip Larkin, the American poet Emily Dickinson, and Thomas Hardy.

Below are links to a selection of my favourite poems by Larkin, Dickinson and Hardy.

“Aubade” by Philip Larkin. Read by the poet himself, Aubade is a powerful examination of the poet’s fear of death, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDr_SRhJs80

“Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson. Unlike Larkin in “Aubade” Dickinson does not see death as a threat which does, I think stem from her deep religious faith, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Am5O8_iCpmg

“The Darkling Thrush” by Thomas Hardy. Hardy’s bleak mood is contrasted with that of the joyful singing of an “aged thrush”, which causes the poet to ponder on how the bird can see “some blessed hope whereof he knew and I was unaware”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGY3DZH85O8

Should poetry be accessible? Certainly any poet who deliberately writes to be inaccessible would be a very strange creature indeed. However what is accessible to one is not accessible to another as, to some extent accessibility is in the eye of the beholder.

Poets also need to be cognisant of the danger of patronising (talking down to) their readers. Whilst working on my forthcoming poetry collection, I considered the need for footnotes. This question arose as in 4 instances I reference the work of long dead poets. My initial view was that anyone with access to Google (please note that other search engines are available)! could easily ascertain details of the poem/poet mentioned, meaning that footnotes where unnecessary. However, I came to the conclusion that adding a few footnotes was preferable to having my readers cursing me for assuming that they had knowledge not possessed by them. Consequently several footnotes appear at the end of my poems.

As to whether my work is accessible? only my readers can answer that question. And different readers will, I believe answer it differently.

(You can find my “Selected Poems” here, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WW8WXPP/. My forthcoming collection will, I hope be available in late June/early July).

She Has Cut Her Hair

Devil-may-care,
She, has cut her hair
And her ribbons gay
Have gone away

He
Thinks of Hardy’s “Ruined Maid.
While she
Has no knowledge of poetry.

Hardy’s Maid
Was devil-may care
With feathers in her hair.
For the poet wished to satirise.

But you will find
That girls of a certain kind
Have eyes
That see behind
The smile, of the unstaid maid,
Although they have heard
Not a word of Hardy’s poetry.

A Thunderstorm In Town, by Lucy Ribchester

Earlier this evening, I listened to “A Thunderstorm In Town”, a short story by Lucy Ribchester, which was inspired by Thomas Hardy’s poem of the same name. Ribchester’s story is an interesting and, for me unexpected take on Hardy’s poem.

You can listen to the poem (and the story) by following this link http://www.bbcmundo.com/programmes/b09pjmjj

Happy Christmas!

I would like to wish all my readers a very happy Christmas. May your Christmas be full of peace and joy.

My own view of Christmas is best summed up by the poet, Thomas Hardy, in his poem “The Oxen”. As with Hardy, I would go down to the “barton” “hoping it might be so”.

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel,
“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

“The Dead Man Walking” by Thomas Hardy

Thank you to my colleague Alison, for drawing my attention to Thomas Hardy’s poem, “The Dead Man Walking”. It is a powerful piece which does, I believe speake for itself, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZP1v54SeHY4

The Ruined Maid By Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy is not generally known for his humour. However, in his poem “The Ruined Maid” we discern wry amusement. Perhaps there is also the unspoken question as to who is better off

 

“the ruined maid” or her friend,

 

“O ‘Melia, my dear, this does everything crown!

Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town?

And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?” —

“O didn’t you know I’d been ruined?” said she.

— “You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,

Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;

And now you’ve gay bracelets and bright feathers three!” —

“Yes: that’s how we dress when we’re ruined,” said she.

— “At home in the barton you said thee’ and thou,’

And thik oon,’ and theäs oon,’ and t’other’; but now

Your talking quite fits ‘ee for high compa-ny!” —

“Some polish is gained with one’s ruin,” said she.

— “Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak

But now I’m bewitched by your delicate cheek,

And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!” —

“We never do work when we’re ruined,” said she.

— “You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,

And you’d sigh, and you’d sock; but at present you seem

To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!” —

“True. One’s pretty lively when ruined,” said she.

— “I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown,

And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!” —

“My dear — a raw country girl, such as you be,

Cannot quite expect that. You ain’t ruined,” said she.).