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Isolation in Hardy's poems 'Nobody Comes' and 'The Darkling Thrush'

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Introduction

´╗┐In the poems ?The Darkling Thrush? [?TDT?] and ?Nobody Comes? [?NC?], Hardy presents two similar images of isolation. In both poems, the personae are isolated from human company, whilst Hardy explores this using imagery of ghosts and the supernatural in both also. However, individually there are differences in tone; although NC ends upon as dire a note as it begins, Hardy engineers an optimistic outlook in TDT and suggests that the persona?s isolation may not Hardy ensures that the persona of ?TDT? is isolated from any other human presence or, until the poem?s third stanza, any living organism. Whilst leaning against ?a coppice gate?, he notes that ?all mankind... had sought their household fires?. Although this is an indication of the low temperature, it is noticeable that the rest of humanity are seeking light in an otherwise dark environment; reciprocally, the persona is deprived of both warmth and living company. To further this point, Hardy personifies non-human entities, such as frost and winter ? ?Winter?s dregs?, for example. ...read more.

Middle

Equally, the present tense verb ?stands? and ?again? emphasizes that this is an ongoing and repeated state of isolation. However, the persona in ?Nobody Comes? is not simply isolated in terms of being physically alone or the sole living creature ? he is also isolated from modernity. Hardy again uses ?supernatural? imagery to explore this. The persona notes that ?The telegraph wire... intones... like a spectral lyre/ Swept by a spectral hand?. Rather than see the telegraph wire as a means of communication, the persona rejects it in presenting an image of disassociation; the vagueness of the verb ?intones? summons an image of faceless voices. He also creates negative supernatural connotations; there is an innate ghostliness about the archaic lyre ? juxtaposed to contrast with the innate modernity of the telegraph wire ? which is reinforced by the wraithlike ?spectral?. Hardy repeats this for emphasis in ?spectral hand?. In this phrase, he also creates an incongruity between the concrete verb ?swept? and noun ?hand? and the abstract concept of ?ghostliness? ? the ?hand? does not exist. ...read more.

Conclusion

The persona is left ?again alone? and isolated, prompting a large amount of sympathy from the reader. By contrast, ?TDT? concludes with a hopeful note. At the appearance of the thrush, in the third stanza, the reader notes that the bird is similarly isolated and surrounded by death. In truth, the reader?s initial reaction to the ?aged... frail, gaunt and small? thrush is to question whether the creature will survive the bleak conditions. There is a sense of desperation present ?fling[ing its] soul/ Upon the growing gloom.? However, the persona notices ?some blessed Hope? in the bird?s ?happy good-night air?. Although ?unaware? of why this may be ? such ?joy illimited? is unintelligible to the persona ? this leads the poem to end in an optimistic fashion. Although both the persona and the thrush remain isolated from any other company (the persona fails to deeply associate with the bird) and the anxiety about the future lingers, Hardy does much to suggest that such deep rooted ?fervourlessness? may change in TDT?s persona, as opposed to the ongoing isolation present in NC. ...read more.

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