The Poetry of Thomas Hardy

The Poetry of Thomas Hardy

The Poetry of Thomas Hardy

The Poetry of Thomas Hardy

Excerpt

The present study of the poetry of Thomas Hardy needs little explanation which a glance at the text itself will not provide. The task has engaged my attention over a longer period than I first intended, and the study has assumed greater proportions than I at first planned. The reason lies in the puzzle Hardy's poetry has provided. My own thinking has altered much since I began work on the book. At first I was in hearty accord with Hardy's views. I have steadily moved farther from them. In the light of this change in my own thinking, I have completely rewritten and expanded the first section of the book, have reworked most of the second, and have added to the last. Before, as well as during the reworking, I have reread the poetry with great care.

Where I shall be found to differ with many who have preceded me is not only in the greater number of illustrations, but in the impression received from the poetry. Every critic must honestly express his own convictions regardless of their divergence from those commonly held. Each must judge the poet from the point of view of his own conditioning. I have been as independent as I could be, and yet my debt to other writers on Hardy is necessarily great. With much that has been written I agree; with much I differ. With almost no one have I been in full accord. I belong to a different age from those who have written largely about Hardy, and I cannot share their exuberance. Where they see victory, I sense defeat; where they see vision, I sense short-sightedness.

The reader should constantly remember that anything I report on love, woman, life, death, and so forth, and any conclusions I draw in the final chapter are based solely on the poetry. Had I drawn from the novels the book might have been richer, but the act would have defeated my purpose.

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