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Extended commentary of 'During Wind and Rain' by Thomas Hardy

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Introduction

´╗┐During Wind and Rain ?Et in Arcadia ego? ? ?Even in Arcadia, I am there? On the Title: An ambiguous and interesting choice of title, in that it is ? as I will show ? both incongruous with the tense (or time-scale) used in the poem and draws the reader?s attention to descriptions of the weather. The word ?during? makes the weather conditions affect the present. However, the poem is mostly written in the historic present and many of the stanzas depict images of bright, pleasant days ? not the ?wind and rain? alluded to in the title. There is clearly an intentional discrepancy being orchestrated here by Hardy. Quote SLS: ?Beware ?during?, the incongruous preposition.? Overall Structure: Four stanzas of seven lines, with a very strange (but regular) rhyme scheme. Hardy uses a very odd structure indeed. The rhyme scheme utilised in the poem consists of: ABCBCDA. There are multiple effects of this: * The sixth line in the stanza breaks the poetic flow of the stanza, as it is the only line not to rhyme with another ? hence acting like a mid-stanzaic volta. It draws attention to itself. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the sixth line of every stanza breaks away from the theme of familial happiness painted in the previous five lines, and turns the subject to the contrasting theme of death. ...read more.

Middle

?Making pathways neat? and ?building a shady seat? have only temporary effects upon happiness ? the ?moss? will grow back, the pathways will become untidy in time, when Winter (representing Death and decay) comes. Thus we find that Hardy is setting up, within his ?pleasant? image, the backdrop upon which he wishes to point out that all happiness, joy ? and life itself ? is fleeting. * Or is it an image of the ?futility of human endeavour? ? the weather will erode the order imposed upon it, and ultimately Death will prevail? * On an aside: evidence for the scene being set in spring: if the seat is shady, then surely the sun must be out in broad daylight ? not a symptom commonly associated with the Wintry illness! Ah, no; the years, the years; See the white storm-birds wing across! And yet, on cue, Hardy revives his alternative theme ? this time with a slightly different D rhyme/phrase. The colloquial negative remains, but Hardy uses the echo of ?the years? to emphasize the passage of time. He uses the same phrase in the fourth stanza, yet repeats the primary ejaculation in the third stanza (they alternate). The final line of the stanza is rather interesting. ?Storm-birds? sound like mythical beasts ? perhaps the extremity of phrase reflects that of Death? ? yet they are most likely geese, flying away before Winter comes. ...read more.

Conclusion

Is this done to reflect the simple, but enjoyable, pleasures of materialistic desires and good weather? * ?Brightest things which are theirs?. Note another superlative. Relevance/ importance, other than to add emphasis? (Have previously analysed the secondary ejaculation. Now repeated.) The final image of the poem is possibly the most interesting, dramatic and explicit. ?Down their carved names the rain-drop ploughs.? Here Hardy at last makes an explicit reference to the subject of death, in that their ?carved names? are grave stones, whilst also tying in the title (with the reference to the weather). Primarily, we are shocked by the contrast; clearly, Hardy is imagining the same individuals with whom we are now familiar (as ?the family?) as being dead. They have been buried. This is a very sudden and rather upsetting realisation. Hardy very successfully makes his point about the frailty and temporal nature of life. Their successes and happiness are irrelevant. How depressing! Worse, Hardy suggests that the weather erodes them not only in life, but also destroys (?ploughs?) their memory in death; the rain drop appears to be eroding away the names from the stones. This insensitivity contrasts with the use of ?names?, which are highly personal. Perhaps, however, Hardy intends ?ploughs? to be positive. As in the agricultural sense, the rain drop prepares for new growth? Final note: Is the narrator writing the poem in the grave-yard? Are the images he recollects merely his memories of a family now dead ? the images of Death are all happening around him ?during wind and rain?? Clever point. Perhaps. ...read more.

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