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The Voice

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Introduction

The Voice Naomi Westerman. Thomas Hardy's poem "The Voice" is a short, four-stanza poem with an alternating rhythm scheme, the first and third, and second and fourth line of each stanza rhyming. The subject if the poem is a man remembering his lost love. As he walks around the places he went with her, remembering her, he imagines that he can hear her voice, before realising he is alone. The poem has a lonely, elegiac feel, and Hardy uses many linguistic techniques to achieve this. The poem is entirely written in the first person, making it feel very personal, and the first three stanzas are directed to the lost love herself. This demonstrates that the speaker is alone and lonely; choosing to speak to a ghost and revel in fantasies of hearing her voice, rather than interacting with other people. He repeatedly uses the word "you" to refer to her, which reinforces the subject of his obsession. ...read more.

Middle

He gives more weight to his memories and helps makes them more real to the reader by adding specific details, such as the fact she would wait for him at the town, and using the adjective "air-blue" to describe his lost love's dress. The use of the word air, while it can be used simply to describe a shade of blue, also evokes a feeling of impermanence and ghostly spirit; perhaps Hardy is comparing the airy colour of her dress to the airy spirit he is feeling around him. In the third stanza, halfway through the poem, the speaker comes back to reality, breaking his dream state by talking about more prosaic, real-life things: "is it only a breeze?" However this rhetorical question could again be aimed either at himself, or at his love's fading memory or ghostly presence. He personifies the breeze with the adjective "listless," which adds to the generally mournful air. ...read more.

Conclusion

This alliteration is by equal measures hopeful and despondent; it suggests he is trying to move on with his life, but is doing so hesitantly and unwillingly. He again uses descriptions of his physical surroundings to show the developing loss of his dream world: the leaves are falling, and the adjective "oozing" is used to describe the wind, a device that has the same affect as the use of "wet mead" in the third stanza. "Oozing thin" is also somewhat onomatopoeic and suggests that the wind is creeping or flowing like water, but slowly, perhaps hardly there, perhaps - given the next sentence, "I hear the woman calling" - carrying the aura of the speaker's lost love. He no longer attempts to speak to her, referring to her in the third person as simply "the woman." And thus even as the speaker returns to the real world, attempting to move forward with his life and assign his ghosts to the past, he still feels her presence there, calling to him. ...read more.

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