Hot Best Seller

Selected Poetry

Availability: Ready to download

Thomas Hardy is among the best-loved of the great English poets, perhaps drawing his great popularity from the elegaic tone of much of his finest verse and the universality of his subject matter: birth, childhood, love, marriage, age, and death. Those elegies inspired by the death of his first wife Emma are some of his best, and are well represented in this new selection o Thomas Hardy is among the best-loved of the great English poets, perhaps drawing his great popularity from the elegaic tone of much of his finest verse and the universality of his subject matter: birth, childhood, love, marriage, age, and death. Those elegies inspired by the death of his first wife Emma are some of his best, and are well represented in this new selection of his verse. Prepared by Samuel Hynes, the editor of the definitive Oxford English Texts Complete Works of Thomas Hardy, this volume includes a selection of Hardy's poetry that spans his life, verses that influenced later poets as diverse as Robert Graves and Philip Larkin, Ezra Pound and W.H. Auden. About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.


Compare

Thomas Hardy is among the best-loved of the great English poets, perhaps drawing his great popularity from the elegaic tone of much of his finest verse and the universality of his subject matter: birth, childhood, love, marriage, age, and death. Those elegies inspired by the death of his first wife Emma are some of his best, and are well represented in this new selection o Thomas Hardy is among the best-loved of the great English poets, perhaps drawing his great popularity from the elegaic tone of much of his finest verse and the universality of his subject matter: birth, childhood, love, marriage, age, and death. Those elegies inspired by the death of his first wife Emma are some of his best, and are well represented in this new selection of his verse. Prepared by Samuel Hynes, the editor of the definitive Oxford English Texts Complete Works of Thomas Hardy, this volume includes a selection of Hardy's poetry that spans his life, verses that influenced later poets as diverse as Robert Graves and Philip Larkin, Ezra Pound and W.H. Auden. About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

30 review for Selected Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Johns

    I know a little too much about Thomas Hardy, thanks to a college seminar on his life and work. It's my humble opinion that some of Hardy's poetry is genius, like Neutral Tones. Much of his poetry is heavy with regret, memory, bleakness, mourning, and lots of other profound emotions. There are some happier poems, but don't read Hardy for a pep talk on love or human nature. I am particularly drawn to his poetry about war (what my senior paper was all about), and recommend you read "Poems of War and I know a little too much about Thomas Hardy, thanks to a college seminar on his life and work. It's my humble opinion that some of Hardy's poetry is genius, like Neutral Tones. Much of his poetry is heavy with regret, memory, bleakness, mourning, and lots of other profound emotions. There are some happier poems, but don't read Hardy for a pep talk on love or human nature. I am particularly drawn to his poetry about war (what my senior paper was all about), and recommend you read "Poems of War and Patriotism" in Moments of Vision, "The Man He Killed", and "Channel Firing" among many others. Hardy was an old man by the time World War I was raging and he was tired of man's self destruction. So take some time and sit with Mr. Hardy. If you've loved and lost, then he's the man for you.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Audrey Davis

    The Victorian era was a turbulent time. Many new machines and ideas were invented, factories and assembly lines streamlined the production of many consumer items, and shifting societal beliefs defined a transition to new ways of thinking. The vast majority of people in Britain at the time believed in some form of Christianity, but with the publication of Charles Darwin’s works, specifically “The Origin of Species,” and “The Descent of Man,” a lot of people were culturally and religiously disorie The Victorian era was a turbulent time. Many new machines and ideas were invented, factories and assembly lines streamlined the production of many consumer items, and shifting societal beliefs defined a transition to new ways of thinking. The vast majority of people in Britain at the time believed in some form of Christianity, but with the publication of Charles Darwin’s works, specifically “The Origin of Species,” and “The Descent of Man,” a lot of people were culturally and religiously disoriented. These works questioned the existence of a ‘god’ or any kind of higher power, and despite opposition from many, they were accepted into scientific canon where they remain today. This questioning greatly affected authors of the time in what they thought and produced as well, one such being Thomas Hardy. From reading his poetry, it's obvious that Hardy’s outlook on life seems grim. Most, if not all, of his poems contain images that suggest gray, dark, and neutral color schemes, and language that conveys pessimism and uncertainty. Hardy himself was said to be agnostic, perhaps even atheistic. Since Hardy’s works were written in a time where there were many different beliefs as to the origin of humanity and life, a recurring theme that can be found in most of the poems is the idea of humanity’s struggle against fate, and the eventual futility of that struggle against fate, the forces of nature, and the universe itself. In his essay “Thomas Hardy and the Poetry of the Absurd,” Charles May touches on the attitude of much of Hardy’s poetry, relating it to that of Albert Camus’ idea of the awareness of the ‘absurd.’ May posits that a work of the absurd is “a manifestation of the artist who realizes that he cannot explain, and must be content only to describe, the unreasonable universe” (May 66). Hardy does not react to the universe in the way that one normally would, instead “rejecting comforting beliefs and insisting on facing an empty world” (May 64). Hardy realizes that the thought of death without the hope of transcendence releases man to explore his own freedom, and that to live a fulfilling life, man must learn to live without this hope (May 64-5). However, in a separate essay titled “Thomas Hardy: The Poet in Search of His Voice,” Bert Hornback asserts that “Hardy insisted to the very end of his life that he was a meliorist, not a pessimist,” and that the present pessimism was merely a disguise, that “Hardy is afraid of speaking his secret, subjective responses to and feelings for life; so he invents voices who look down at the world from godly afars and speak wryly of us and our troubles” (Hornback 56). The lingering feeling from a great number of Hardy’s poems is a sense that humanity is something that must be endured, but that it is something that one comes to accept and live with, however unhappily. If one chooses to believe the idea that Hardy hid his personal feelings behind pessimism and a mask of doubt, Hardy provides not only his own commentary on the changing ideals and beliefs of the time, but his outlook on life and humanity as well, which is perhaps not as bleak as it would seem. Hardy’s work seems to contain elements from both the realist and the modernist movements, and because of this, it is somewhat difficult to classify his works, but most critics agree on placing him with the Modernists. On one hand, his pessimism and bleak outlook on daily life mirrors Realist tradition. However, Hardy’s later poetry was published during the time of the Modernists, and reflects the acceptance of scientific values over religious ones (and with this a loss of faith), and assimilation of other, older traditions into the new one to form new ideas. One poem that seems to walk this border between Realist and Modernist is “Nature’s Questioning.” In this piece, a speaker muses that the world around him, including flocks of sheep and trees, is staring at him “[l]ike chastened children sitting silent in a school” (4), as he contemplates the meaning of life. These items look like at one point they may have had “early zest” (8), for life, but now are worn down from life’s continuum; thus the landscape looks “dulled [and] constrained” (5) to him, and seems to wonder at its own meaning (12). The world poses four possibilities for existence: “some Vast Imbecility” (13) created them and then forgot to tend this creation, an “Automaton” (17) created them and was unaware that they required guidance, a dying god created and then left them, and the fact that they may be part of a yet-unknown higher plan. The speaker acknowledges all of these, but says they are “[n]o answerer” (25), and does not wish to pose their own answer, opting “for the wisdom of experience instead” (Hornback 58). Whatever the case may actually be makes no difference in the life of both the observer/speaker and the landscape; “the winds, and rains, / [a]nd Earth’s old glooms and pains” will continue as usual and give little thought to the meaning of life, only the experiences within it. According to May, “attempts to rationalize the human dilemma of pain and isolation are futile” (May 68), but it does not seem that simple. Through this poem, Hardy does put forth his own beliefs of the meaning of life— even though he poses four different possibilities, the refusal to choose one suggests that he feels it may not matter what the answer is. There may or may not even be an answer, but Hardy knows that life will continue with or without that answer, and that “Life and Death are neighbors nigh” (28). In terms of the form of the poem, the stanzas are set up in quatrains, which parallel the four answers posed to the question of life’s meaning. The ABBA rhyme scheme for each stanza echoes the feeling of being trapped without an answer, doomed to repeat oneself until the end. All this being said, this viewpoint is not necessarily a strictly pessimistic view of the world, merely one that seems to be indifferent to whatever the answer may be, which would have made many in the Victorian era uncomfortable. In addition to holding what society at the time might have called ‘abnormal’ religious beliefs, Hardy exhibited anti-war sentiments in his poetry which were mostly still unseen at this time, specifically in the piece “Drummer Hodge,” originally titled “The Dead Drummer” in 1899. The war depicted in this poem is meant to be the Boer War, in which the British Empire fought two Boer states in South Africa for control of the area. The British were the victors, but obviously many lives were lost in the process, with the subject of this poem supposedly one of them. This poem describes the burial of a drummer boy after his time at war, who couldn’t have been very old, implied by the fact that “Young Hodge” was “[f]resh from his Wessex home” (7-8). This burial is very unceremonial, as they just “throw” the boy’s body into a pit “to rest / [u]ncoffined” (1-2). Presumably the military would have told this boy how important to the cause his job was, but he is buried so hastily, and without any honors, as if his death was just something that was unavoidable and necessary. Hardy uses foreign words, such as “kopje-crest” (which is a little rocky hill), “veldt” (a flat grassland) and even going as far as to describe the “foreign constellations” (3-5) above his tomb each night to show readers that this boy was buried far from home. The use of foreign words adds to the reader’s sympathy for the boy in an unknown land alone, and how he must have felt during his time serving for the British army in a foreign place. A young boy would certainly see the appeal in traveling to a new country, but for a purpose such as war, the newness is all but lost in the task. Even though this boy may have been just a drummer boy for the British army in another country, the poem contains a slight tone of honor and dismay. Hardy seems to be trying to convey that immortalizing this boy, and in effect other deceased soldiers, in a poem will do more for his and other soldiers’ memories than an unmarked grave on an African plain. This poem has a rhyme scheme of ABABA across all three stanzas, mimicking the sound of a drum beat. Each line alternates 8 and 6 syllables, and all of the lines are iambic, adding another layer of mimicked drum beat, but also adding mimicked heartbeat, suggesting that Hodge will live on through this poem. Despite his sentiments that indicate pessimism and negativity, some of Hardy’s poems seem to end on a more hopeful note, such as “The Sleep-Worker.” This poem almost takes the form of a lament, combined with an ode. The speaker is patiently waiting for one they call “Mother” (1) to awaken and see what has happened while they slumbered. While this being has slept, “[f]air growths [and] foul cankers” have arisen, and “right [has become] enmeshed with wrong” (6), and the speaker ponders how the being will react to these. Because there is both right and wrong present, and based on Hardy’s tendency to provide social commentary, one can infer that Hardy is addressing Mother Nature or Mother Earth, a being that would have the power to ‘work’ (or maintain seamless natural processes) while they were ‘asleep’ or dormant, as well as both “destroy, in one wild shock of shame” (12), and “patiently adjust, amend, and heal” (14). This poem displays Hardy’s belief in some higher power in control, regardless of whether humans can appease that power or not, in addition to his apprehension and eagerness to present the workings of humans. Like May’s assertion of the ‘absurd’ ideal, Hardy does not try to explain the universe or a higher power, only to present the image of one who could be (and most likely is) himself and describe the choices this “Mother” being has. In the last stanza, Hardy has chosen to speak about destruction first, then end the poem with an image of healing and repair, and therefore hope, leaving a pleasant taste in readers’ mouths as opposed to a bitter one. As this poem has the makings of a sonnet, and as most sonnets deal with love in some way, there is a tinge of concern for one’s fellow man to the speaker’s tone. The rhyme scheme of the poem is ABBA ABBA CDC EED. In the last stanza, the words that constitute this rhyme are “shame,” “frame,” and “heal.” The last stanza’s rhyme scheme deviates from what one would normally expect it to be— “heal” in this stanza rhymes with “feel” from the penultimate stanza, and this return to something gentle and pleasant instead of harsh and destruction-centered furthers the feeling of hope from the tone. A final example of Hardy’s shift towards positive emotions instead of mainly pessimism, as well as one of Hardy’s most well-known poems, is “The Darkling Thrush.” The premise of this poem is simple— the speaker, leaning on a fence post, notes how dreary and dismal everything is, including the trees and the weather, but as soon as he hears a thrush sing, he gets a feeling of hope. Every image up until line 17 is dark and cheerless, being set in “[w]inter’s dregs” (3), at the turn of the century. Being written on December 31st of 1900, even the century itself passes monotonously, “[t]he land’s sharp features” (9) echoing the “[c]entury’s corpse” (10), with the gray cloud cover acting as a “crypt” (11) and the wind as a “death lament” (12). The volta of the poem, which is very obvious in this case as opposed to some of Hardy’s other poems, comes “[a]t once” (17) with the thrush’s song. The speaker, who had been “fervourless” up until this point, is thrilled by the fact that, even though the thrush is “frail, gaunt, and small” (21), he has decided to “fling his soul / upon the growing gloom” (23-4) ecstatically, despite the landscape and the attitudes of those around him recommending otherwise. In the thrush’s song, the speaker hears “[s]ome blessed Hope” (31) of which they were “unaware” (32), which can be interpreted as an unforeseen glimmer of optimism for the upcoming century. Hardy’s use of the image of the “broken lyre” (6) is an interesting choice. Lyres are generally associated with poets and the idea of a muse, but because this one is broken, it could represent Hardy’s personal lack of motivation or inspiration to write poetry, and hearing the thrush sing restores that drive. Additionally, Hardy could be using ‘lyres’ as a play on words for the ‘liars’ and corruption of the past century. The thrush’s song of hope could therefore denote an end to such corruption, or perhaps the bird sings in spite of this corruption. Furthermore, this poem has a normal rhyme scheme with nothing too intricate, but the meter of the lines is iambic with an alternating pattern of eight and six syllables. This gives the poem a certain beat or flow, which emulates the thrush's song. Hornback maintains that Hardy hid his intentions and feelings behind pessimistic language, but in this piece, the reader can plainly see that Hardy is not hiding anything. The speaker, and in effect the author, is thrilled to have heard the thrush’s song, and senses the hope that this song brings with it. May believes that “Hardy’s rebellion against the chaos of the universe is a demand for order, [...] [but he also] realizes the impossibility of finding it” (May 73). Hornbeck, on the other hand, feels that because Hardy claimed to be a meliorist, the pessimist tones and dark attitudes are just a mask to hide his more sentimental feelings, those that Hardy may have deemed too 'human' to show in a poem with such lofty goals as his. Not every poem requires hiding behind that mask, such as “The Darkling Thrush,” but in attempting to hide his true intent in the poems that necessitate it, his real feelings show through anyway. Hardy’s poetry, therefore, is not an assertion of order, as he is not trying to create it— it is Hardy’s main method for creating awareness of the disorderly nature of the universe, and for finding some way to make life in a chaotic world within an equally chaotic time period worth living.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alice Lippart

    An enjoyable collection. Definitely found some new favorites!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    While I haven't actually finished this book, one is never really done with a book of poetry. This is a decent collection with all the "Poems of 1912-1913" from "Satires of Circumstance" included. Hardy as a poet is very different from Hardy as a novelist, the way most of us know him. His poems are almost invariably short, some are beautifully ambiguous, others as direct and clear as lightning across the night sky, a few are playful ("The Ruined Maid"). A few are famous, like "Channel Firing" and While I haven't actually finished this book, one is never really done with a book of poetry. This is a decent collection with all the "Poems of 1912-1913" from "Satires of Circumstance" included. Hardy as a poet is very different from Hardy as a novelist, the way most of us know him. His poems are almost invariably short, some are beautifully ambiguous, others as direct and clear as lightning across the night sky, a few are playful ("The Ruined Maid"). A few are famous, like "Channel Firing" and "The Darkling Thrush". Hardy's novels were written for serial publication so they tend to be padded with extraneous sub-plots and minor characters who don't do much--it was simply the way novels had to be written then, first to run in monthly installments in one of the "better" magazines, then as three volume works for the lending libraries which accounted for a significant part of sales. In his verse, though, we see that Hardy could make every word count. He wrote like both an artist and a craftsman. Some of the same themes run through the novels and the poems--the unavoidable and often malignant role of fate or chance in the lives of people; the beauties and terrors of rural working class life; the realization that once one turns away from what is most important his life will become meaningless, something Hardy called "the tragedy of the moment". He might have been ironic (although I don't think so) when he did a calculation on the proofs of "Human Shows" and found that only about two-fifths of them were "poems of tragedy, sorrow or grimness". Hardy saw tragedy as part of everyday life, not somethng that affected only noble or dramatic lives.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Knapp

    One of the great poets in English -- but definitely a "glass half-empty" sort of guy. The jacket copy for the Oxford World's Classics paperback puts it nicely: "His verse touches all the common themes of existence: birth, childhood, love, marriage, ageing, death. If his age brings anything to them, it is an old man's ironic, elegiac sense that hopes are likely to be defeated and losses sustained, and that the world was not designed for human happiness." Well . . . that's certainly one point of vi One of the great poets in English -- but definitely a "glass half-empty" sort of guy. The jacket copy for the Oxford World's Classics paperback puts it nicely: "His verse touches all the common themes of existence: birth, childhood, love, marriage, ageing, death. If his age brings anything to them, it is an old man's ironic, elegiac sense that hopes are likely to be defeated and losses sustained, and that the world was not designed for human happiness." Well . . . that's certainly one point of view. See also "The Middle Years" by Henry James. But see. "As the legend has it, [Saint John Chrysostom] crossed the Czarena for neglecting the needs of the poor, and she sentenced him to be dragged to death behind a chariot. The saint was deeply revered by the Russian people, and they lined the road for their last glimpse of him. It is reported that the last words he spoke were, 'Thanks, thanks for everything. Praise, praise for it all!'” http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10... It takes all kinds.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Aken

    Fairly typical Victorian mawkish stuff, I thought.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Miss

  8. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Dalby

  9. 4 out of 5

    Luke Chapman

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bluejeans&Moonbeams

  11. 4 out of 5

    Abby Taylor Pugh

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marine

  13. 4 out of 5

    Art Foley

  14. 5 out of 5

    Artfulreads

  15. 5 out of 5

    Phil

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marg

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ian

  18. 4 out of 5

    Manik Sukoco

  19. 4 out of 5

    BookScout

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rinzu Rajan

  21. 5 out of 5

    Helen Russell

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mathilde

  24. 4 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nate

  26. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Gilfilen

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lacey

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ramzzi Fariñas

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jumana

  30. 5 out of 5

    Pj

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...