The Pattern of Hardy's Poetry

By Samuel Lynn Hynes | Go to book overview

8
The Question of Development

SO FAR THESE remarks, like most criticisms of Hardy, have tacitly assumed that his poetry is all of a piece, one solid mass of verse expressing a sensibility at a single stage of development. For critics, Hardy has had no poetic periods-- one does not speak of early Hardy or late Hardy, or of the London or Max Gate period, but simply of Hardy, as of a poetic monolith. This seems odd when one recalls that he wrote poetry longer than any other major English poet: "Domicilium" is dated "between 1857 and 1860"; "Seeing the Moon Rise" is dated August, 1927. One might expect that in a poetic career of seventy-odd years, some changes in style and method would have occurred, some development taken place.

This is not, however, the case, and development is a term which we can apply to Hardy only in a very limited sense. In a time when poetic style, and poetic belief as well, seem in a state of continual flux, Hardy stands out as a poet of almost perverse consistency. Though he struggled with philosophy all his life, he never got much beyond the pessimism of his twenties; the "sober opinion" of his letter to Noyes, written when Hardy was eighty years old, is essentially that of his first "philosophical" notebook entry,

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The Pattern of Hardy's Poetry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • 1 - Hardy and the Critics 3
  • 2 - Hardy and the Poets 16
  • 3 - The Uses O F Philosophy 34
  • 4 - The Hardy Style 56
  • 5 - The Search for a Form 74
  • 6 - The Uses of Diction 89
  • 7 - The Two Worlds of Imagery 109
  • 8 - The Question of Development 130
  • 9 - The Dynasts as an Example 152
  • 10 - The Final Achievement 175
  • Index 191
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