Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3

Journeying in Hardy's "At Castle Boterel"

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

After Emma's death Hardy embarked on a journey to some of their old haunts in Cornwall to rediscover their old love. Considering in detail one poem, discuss ways in which Hardy uses the symbol of journeying in his poetry. "At Castle Boterel", one of the greatest of Hardy's Poems of 1912-13, is an intensely personal poem, yet expresses universal truths on the subjects of loss, reclamation and time. An example of Hardy at his most emotionally evocative and philosophically profound, it chronicles his spiritual, intellectual and emotional journey following the death of his wife. The background to the composition of "At Castle Boterel" is that of a physical journey itself - Hardy's pilgrimage to Cornwall. In the poem this journey is juxtaposed with a past journey, separated by time but not space, taken in a parallel March many years before. The comparative weather conditions belie Hardy's nostalgia for the past: the bleakness of the present "drizzle" and "fading byway" draws a sharp contrast with the "dry March weather" of the former journey. The use of the vivid present in "We climb the road" emphasises the clarity of the memory, blurring, as in many of the Poems of 1912-13, the boundaries between past and present, memory and reality.

Middle

However as Hardy begins to muse upon the nature of Time itself, this grander theme is accompanied by philosophical language, using more abstract phrases such as "Time's unflinching rigour" and "mindless rote". Hardy rages against the insuperable adversaries of Time and Nature, the great eternal obstacles to his journey. Just as in "Rain on a Grave", Nature is described as holding humankind in "ruthless disdain," here the "Primaeval rocks" dispassionately watch the procession of humanity. "First and last", they are both ancient and everlasting, unmoved by the insignificance of the "transitory" journey of human life. The cruel indifference of Time and Nature is further symbolised in Castle Boterel. Once a majestic monument to human endeavour and achievement, little remains but some barely discernible ruins. Worn away by Time and Nature, the castle represents the fading of human history from both memory and the landscape as enduring Nature reigns everlasting. The brutal rhythmic effect of the iambic tetrameter in the line "In mindless rote, has ruled from sight" expresses the ruthlessness of Time's "unflinching rigour". The effect is continued in "Remains on the slope, as when that night", which echoes the marching rhythm through the masculine rhymes of "rote" and "slope", as well as "sight" and "night".

Conclusion

absurdly tries to assert that Emma's departure was, as before, a deliberate lack of manners: "Your meaning seems to me/ Just as it used to be:/ 'Good-bye is not worth while!'" "The Haunter" too exposes delusion in Hardy's attempt to reassure himself that Emma is still by his side: "Hover and hover a few feet from him/ Just as I used to do". By contrast, the altogether calmer tone of "At Castle Boterel", (the penultimate poem in the sequence) is more indicative of "acceptance" - the final stage, which allows the griever to move on. For as Hardy nears the end of his journey through grief, life and Time, he approaches a "junction of lane and highway" - a crossroads suggestive of a transition, and an allusion to the divide between town and country that so preoccupied him. A man of many conflicts and paradoxes, Hardy was indeed a "time-torn man", caught in the rift between Romanticism and Modernism; two movements of two centuries. "At Castle Boterel" is itself an elegiac journey from grief to acceptance, and, as Hardy prepares to move on to the next phase of life, a farewell not just to Emma, but to Romanticism itself. ?? ?? ?? ??

The above preview is unformatted text

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • Over 150,000 essays available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

5 star(s)

An excellent essay, which demonstrates understanding of how poetic technique and subject matter are intricately linked and used to craft and create meaning. The writer understands and can explain the effects of a range of poetic devices - not only metaphor, but also enjambment, masculine and feminine rhyme, and to some extent rhythmic effects, though these could be explored in more detail.
There is also a real sense in this essay that the writer has something to say and has responded personally and thoughtfully to the poem. An excellent vocabulary helps to give the essay fluency of expression.
*****

Marked by teacher Val Shore 21/03/2012

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Over 180,000 student essays
  • Every subject and level covered
  • Thousands of essays marked by teachers

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Poets essays

  1. What methods does Browning use to tell the poem The Pied Piper of Hamelin ...

    Although the sound of the pipe was horrible, the rats thought they were going somewhere which was much better then this place, to show their joy they are "dancing" to the sound of this pipe. Browning has used happy choice of words for the rats following the magic pipe to

  2. Marked by a teacher

    What methods does Browning use to tell the poem Fra Lippo Lippi Line 1-39?

    3 star(s)

    Browning makes another use of metaphor as he says "Are we pilchards that they sweep the streets and count fair prize what comes into their net?" referring himself to a fish and the watchmen who are with him as fishermen and how "they sweep the streets".

  1. Poetry analysis of 'Country School' Allen Curnow

    Curnow has made use of an unstable structure so to say, for the poem does not hold a constant number of stanzas, rather the poem begins with 3 and 5 lined stanzas but ends with two 4-lined stanzas. Now this growth of stability towards the end perhaps reflects the growth or the increase in the persona's clarity of understanding.

  2. Betjeman may not write earnestly about religion, love, and death but this does not ...

    Then Betjeman starts talking about the architecture again. This could be seen as insensitive; a man has just been told he is dying and the poet is talking about 'steady' chimneys and 'a mackerel sky' suggesting a calmness and stableness.

  1. Literary analysis of 'The Going' by Thomas Hardy

    For example, he says ' Why do you make me leave the house / And think for a breath it is you I see...!' - Hardy has not ended his sentence with a question mark but rather he has ended with an exclamation mark, suggesting he in reality does not

  2. The roles of women, feminism, the theme of innocence and childhood are issues ecplored ...

    of her youth but also the savagery that she is now aware exists in the world. The "big boys" (repeated plosive alliteration of the b,b reminds us of the bull and links the 'monster' to the boys showing the clear relation of the two)

  1. The folly of Human Beings is a Constant Source of Amusement to Him Explore ...

    that seems very reminiscent that makes the reader sympathise with the "nightclub propiertress." Betjeman shows here that the foolishness of human behaviour can actually be quite sad, "When Boris used to call in his Sedanca, When Teddy took me Down to his Estate, When my nose excited passion, When my

  2. Comment closely on the following poem (The Self-Unseeing by Thomas Hardy), paying particular attention ...

    was âunseeingâ and could not see the true value of his life with his parents. This makes the light imagery all the more powerful, as Hardy uses it to show that he is now able to see what he was unable to in his childhood.

  • Over 180,000 essays
    written by students
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to write
    your own great essays

Marked by a teacher

This essay has been marked by one of our great teachers. You can read the full teachers notes when you download the essay.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review on the essay page.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review under the essay preview on this page.