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Explore the ways in which death overshadows the works of both Thomas Hardy and Christina Rossetti.

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Introduction

Explore the ways in which death overshadows the works of both Thomas Hardy and Christina Rossetti Christina Rossetti and Thomas Hardy produced poetry that elicits specific emotional, moral, intellectual, and aesthetic responses from the reader. Similar themes are shared in their works. The different aspects of love are explored, be it from a loved one or as unrequited love. Rossetti's love poetry was influenced by medieval French love poetry, such as in "Monna Innominda," which exposed her self-conscious and detached use of specific forms and conventions of love poetry. "Darkling Thrush" is a sign of Hardy's influence from other romantic poets of the time such as Shelly and Keats. He gains astonishing poetic resonance by imagining a hitherto "romantic" creature as "frail, gaunt," and "blast-beruffled." He manages to combine what looks like the subjectivity of the romantic first-person speaker with the more objective voice of the ballad, such as in "A Singer Asleep." It invokes pastoral elegy to achieve an almost visionary intensity, but the pastoral is more usually invoked in Hardy's lyrics in order to be shown up as a poetic illusion. Other issues explored by both poets are religion, natural imagery and moral values, but strongly projected through all of these themes, within both poets works, is the imagery and emotions associated with death. ...read more.

Middle

He did not love me living; but once dead He pitied me; and very sweet it is To know he is still warm tho' I am cold This passage echoes a notion of lost youth and missed opportunity, something which is prevalent in much of Rossetti's poetry, such as in "The Prince's Progress" and in "Spring." The "he" in the poem did neither appreciate nor love the speaker whilst alive, but wept once she was gone. The last line of the stanza reflects an ironic bitterness. Similarly, Hardy also uses the imagery of the deathbed. I think this is strongly portrayed in "Her Death and After," where Hardy describes his experience and emotions connected to the death of his wife. During the poem he describes himself at her bed: "She took my hand in her thin white own And smiled her thanks- though nigh to weak..." By placing himself at his wife's deathbed he is trying to come to terms with her death, wondering why he could not always be there. It shows his feelings of guilt and insecurity with death: "I thought of a man who had left her lone him who had made her his own when I loved her, long before." It is interesting to see that love and death are closely linked during the poems of both Rossetti and Hardy. ...read more.

Conclusion

As the digger says the beloved felt that "It cannot hurt her now...that I should not be true." Not only has the beloved forgotten his dead loved one, as any attention he would pay towards the deceased could never be returned, he may of found someone even 'greater.' Throughout the duration of the poem she addresses different people to discover who is digging at her grave. She craves respect even after her death. When she discovers that it is mans best friend, the dog, digging only by chance at her grave: "I am sorry, but I quite forgot/It was your resting place." The poem shows Hardy's feelings towards relationships, perhaps that they cannot be fully trusted. This inability to fully connect with others not only causes disappointment when it is realised but it also relegates everyone to the corpse-like condition of the poems deceased. He feels that although he is not dead, his existence is very similar and the times he does connect with others it is only for a brief moment. In Rossetti's poetry love releases a melancholy desire for death, and for a kind of death not closely connected with her usual ideas of the underworld. It s a condition between sleeping and waking, a half-conscious state in which her memories fade with the strongest affections into the shadows. Both Hardy and Rossetti use the imagery of shadows and the underworld to present their ideas of death. ...read more.

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