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Extended commentary of 'On the Departure Platform' by Thomas Hardy

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Introduction

´╗┐On the Departure Platform A LOVE LYRIC On the Title: This is obviously a metaphor for the ending of a ?moment?, as well as the literal description of the place where many of the images (within the poem) are based; on a train platform, where the persona and his female love interest part. The title introduces the poem?s key theme to the reader ? a separation of young love, but not a permanent one. As one reads further into the poem itself, the persona comments on the painful fact that humanity leaves behind time as well. Overall Structure: Hardy writes in 6 stanzas of English quatrains with an alternate rhyme scheme (a similar technique used in other poems) to concentrate the poem. The last line of these stanzas is conspicuously shorter than the others ? usually four or five syllables to the other nine or ten. Hardy does this to a) draw attention to them but also b) to the theme they nearly all have in common. They all illustrate, in the first four stanzas, a diminuation in the woman?s size; as an optical effect, she gets smaller the further she moves away into the crowd. ...read more.

Middle

This is the idea of two converging lines eventually reaching a vanishing point. The diminishing platform mirrors the diminishing view of the woman ? is this (metaphorically) an emotional statement along with a literal visual one? Note; ?through hustling crowds of gentle and rough? refers to the class system of ?gentlefolk? and the ?rough? of the lower classes. Its only importance is in distinguishing between the figure of the woman and the crowd ? the persona is only focussed on her! Third Stanza Notes: Hardy then explores the same image further, with a focus on colour contrast: ?Under the lamplight?s fitful glowers, Behind dark groups from far and near, Whose interests were apart from ours, She would disappear,? Hardy compares the darkness of the scene ? which is, remember, in a typically smoky Victorian railway station ? to the pure white of the woman?s dress. It stands out. Indeed, he focuses entirely upon this image, as it is the beauty of it which he wishes to recall; therefore, all other individuals become ?dark? metaphoric areas in his memory. The line ?Their interests were apart from ours? further advances this ? the persona does not care about any other intentions other than his own, and perhaps his partner?s. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is perhaps suggested, therefore, that the relationship has ended at this point ? in terms of language, the persona has yet to see her again and maybe never will. Indeed, Hardy uses polysyndeton and recurring dashes, along with the conditional tense to emphasize the uncertainty as to the relationship?s future. Hardy?s point does not regard the relationship, however ? therefore the truth is left purposely unclear. By contrast, the aim of the poem is to point to the fact that ?nought happens twice thus? ? the persona will never experience such a moment again. This idea is introduced in the last line of the fifth stanza (?But never as then!?), in a phrase made noticeable through its contracted nature. Then Hardy switches to a present tense exchange. ?-And why, young man, must eternally fly A joy you?ll repeat if you love her well? * O friend, nought happens twice thus; why, I cannot tell!? Whilst also emphasizing the persona?s youth, Hardy makes his tragic point clear once again. However, there exists an irony rooted in his words. For, due to the existence of the poem itself, it can be argued that the moment is quite attainable (as proved above!), but through the use of literary suspension. ________________ ...read more.

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