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Comparing the poems 'Neutral Tones' and 'Absence'

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Introduction

Comparing the poems 'Neutral Tones' and 'Absence' Both the poems 'Neutral Tones' by Thomas Hardy and 'Absence' by Elizabeth Jennings mention and describe the poets' feelings about losing their partners. Even though the general theme, the loss of love, is the same, many features such as tone, imagery, language and rhyme scheme differ from each other. Hardy emphasises more on his feelings towards his break up. He doesn't actually mention how he feels, but instead, the imagery he uses and the way he describes his ex-girlfriend shows that he feels broken and angry. The tone in this poem is very solemn and dull, though it is quite strong in some areas like "The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing" and "your face, and the God-curst sun... grayish leaves". Hardy also got more vigorous and frustrated towards the end of the poem. In Jennings's poem, the tone is much different. Unlike Hardy, she describes her surroundings and loneliness, not how her partner looks like. Jennings's poem builds up from a calm tone to an irritated one. The first stanza of 'Absence' describes her surroundings, the second, how she is alone and in the third, how her loneliness affects her. ...read more.

Middle

Hardy uses her face as the conveyance of all his disputes with her and all the resentment inside him. This makes the poem effective to show how strongly Hardy feels about his break up. Jennings's poem is somewhat the opposite. She has set her poem in a beautiful garden where everything seems fine, "well-tended" and "steady" - exactly the way it was before she broke up. This shows that she feels everything was against her. She wants everything to be gloomy like her feelings but was annoyed when she saw that "nothing was changed" to suit her feelings. She says, "It was because the place was just the same that made your absence seem a savage force", and this line shows that it was because of the normalcy of the landscape that made her lonelier. The line "there was no sign that anything had ended" proves that she wants life to continue as normal for her but it can't, because she is shattered due to her break up. Her use of more joyful images like the "birds... singing an ecstasy" and the "fountains" which "sprayed their usual steady jet" are also effective, like Hardy's images. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even so, she is only thinking of his name. This difference shows me that Hardy emphasises more on how his relationship has been broken and how his partner didn't feel his distress, but Jennings emphasises more on her anguish that the things around her aren't gloomy and how she can't share their delight. I personally prefer Hardy's poem 'Neutral Tones' because he uses imagery very effectively. Hardy uses the landscape, colours, and facial features to convey his heart brokenness. I liked the way Hardy chose an aggravated tone for his poem and how he has developed it towards the end to describe his girlfriend's face. From his poem, I could actually feel Hardy's devastation because he even brought in the bitter side of nature to enhance his feelings. Hardy also had a dramatic ending where he used the alliteration "wrings with wrongs". I also liked the way Hardy had combined all his anger and problems and merged them into his ex-girlfriend's face. I think Hardy was successful in using imagery by describing the surroundings in the beginning of the poem and concluding with the surroundings as well. Hardy's choice of language was also appropriate to describe his emotions. All in all, I think Hardy was very successful in using vivid imagery to portray his feelings. ...read more.

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