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Extended commentary of 'The Pine Planters' by Thomas Hardy

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Introduction

´╗┐The Pine Planters ?Marty South?s Reverie? An Elegy. On the Title: A simple reference to the characters described in the first part of the poem. Overall, though, it refers to an earlier work by Hardy, named ?The Woodlanders?. Marty South ? note the lack of explicit gender reference in the name ? is a character from ?The Woodlanders? whose thoughts are expressed in an odd, stream-of-consciousness-esque reverie. Hardy is interested in the melancholy of both human relationships and within nature; the lack of meaning he can find in natural suffering. Overall Structure: Hardy splits the poem into two parts, with two very different structural styles: 1. Part I takes a ballad form; 8 English quatrains with a mostly ABCB rhyme scheme, but with the occasional use of an alternate scheme when emphasis is required. Hardy uses very simple language throughout this stanza ? the images presented are equally so. 2. Part II contains three stanzas of 12 lines, with an alternate rhyme scheme. Consequently, the poem loses its sense of ballad and, as the lines increase in length, becomes more abstract and ?deep?. ...read more.

Middle

The woman has no mobility. This is made clearer in the second stanza; ?what I do/ Keeps me from moving/ And chills me through.? More importantly, though, ?he does not notice?. This simple observation of a married man not noticing his wife?s routine suffering (suffering, as it is later revealed, which is endured only to be near him.) is shocking to the reader. The wife is made initially into a tragic beast of burden ? this lack of physical motion will eventually come to represent her inability to achieve any motion in life. Hardy deliberately utilises the understatement and plainness of speech to accentuate this fact. In the next stanza, he reveals why. ?He has seen one fairer?. Again, utilising understatement, Hardy introduces (in a noticeably less ?fixed? reality) a third figure to the poem ? the male?s true love interest. Hardy, by portraying such a betrayal from the victim?s eyes (as well as condemning the male to interest based upon attractiveness alone) again achieves a sense of sympathy from the reader. ...read more.

Conclusion

One therefore questions Marty?s judgement; if she is aware that her relationship with her male partner has been afflicted to its present demise (an argument further supported by the use of the past tense at (4)) then why does she stay there? Why is she unable to move herself physically, emotionally or verbally from her fixed spot? She is like the tree which she plants; immovable but suffering because of it. Much as one can muse upon Hardy?s own Modernist views (see the previous poem for the question of Modernist principles upon human suffering) on the matter, the persona suggests a very simple answer ? see (2). She still loves the male. This creates a scenario ? an immovable object, enduring suffering, refuses to resign from desperation because Nature/emotion has dictated it must stay ? which is passed on to Part II. [Note the irony of the persona: she says, through the medium of literary suspension, that she can make no sign. But we are reading it... She?s making a sign, therefore... So, perhaps Marty South?s Reverie is her paradoxical sign?] ...read more.

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