Thomas Hardy Afterwards Analysis

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Isabelle Kern Ms. Hall September 2015 English Lit HL A Commentary on Thomas Hardy’s Afterwards A question that is raised by people many times throughout their lives is: “How will we be remembered when we die and what will be our legacy?” This essay will investigate Thomas Hardy’s poem “Afterwards” to explore how Hardy uncovered death and dying as part of a natural course of events and as celebratory and intriguing in nature rather than melancholy and depressing. In that context, the main theme of this essay concerns the reflection on ones own mortality and the contemplation of what kind of legacy one leaves behind. These ruminations are encapsulated in the poem’s title “Afterwards” as this implies “after death.” Furthermore, Hardy highlights…show more content…
He then visualizes how his neighbors will react to these hypothetical situations. Each of these stanzas has a rhyme scheme of ABAB such as “stay” “say” and “wings” “things” in the first stanza. However, in contrast to the regular rhyme scheme, the meter of this poem is very irregular. It seems as though the lines are too long and overextended, disrupting the rhythm of the poem. The use of enjambment exacerbates the break in rhythm, such as “One may say, “He strove that such innocent creatures should/ come to no harm.”” Hardy uses this stylistic device to highlight the theme of death and life. It is as if the speaker in this poem aspires to prolong his inevitable death, as if he were dragging the poem along, savoring every last minute he can on earth. A section of the poem that exemplifies the arrhythmic nature is “And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom,/ And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings” The lines in this quotation are completely different in length, giving it an arrhythmic…show more content…
“And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings/ Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,/ “He was a man who used to notice such things?”” First of all, the month May is metaphorically represented by a butterfly, as it is flapping its “glad green leaves like wings delicate-filmed as new spun silk”. Butterflies are often considered very beautiful and are a symbol for rebirth just like spring. Therefore, the metaphor of the butterfly not only symbolizes nature’s beauty but also ironically conveys a symbol of rebirth in a poem that concerns mortality. This harkens back to Hardy’s effort to emphasize optimism and lightness in a poem that concerns a topic generally associated with despair and sadness. Additionally, this quote also depicts what the speaker’s neighbors think about him after his death. Butterflies are very small and intricate; the speaker considers if his neighbors will ask themselves if he “noticed such things.” The use of metaphors and symbols in this poem underscore all the themes of this poem tremendously, whether it is the theme of remembrance and legacy after death, the beauty of nature or dampening the lugubrious connotations of

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