'The Subalterns' by Thomas Hardy
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I"Poor wanderer," said the leaden sky,"I fain would lighten thee,
But there are laws in force on highWhich say it must not be."II--"I would not freeze thee, shorn one," criedThe North, "knew I but how
To warm my breath, to slack my stride;But I am ruled as thou."III--"To-morrow I attack thee, wight,"Said Sickness. "Yet I swear
I bear thy little ark no spite,But am bid enter there."IV--"Come hither, Son," I heard Death say;"I did not will a grave
Should end thy pilgrimage to-day,But I, too, am a slave!"VWe smiled upon each other then,And life to me had less
Of that fell look it wore ere whenThey owned their passiveness.
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Subalterns by Thomas Hardy: A Literary Criticism
If you're a fan of Thomas Hardy's poetic works, you must have come across "The Subalterns," a powerful and thought-provoking poem that examines the role of war and its consequences on individuals. Hardy, who was one of the finest novelists and poets of his time, uses his words wisely to bring out the inherent emotions and complexities of the subject matter.
With "The Subalterns," Hardy delves deep into the minds of soldiers fighting in a war, and brings to light their struggles and emotions. Set during the Boer War, the poem tells the story of two soldiers who are left behind in the battlefield, wounded and alone. The poem is a powerful commentary on the futility of war and the senseless loss of life that it causes.
Analysis of "The Subalterns"
The poem is composed of four stanzas, each consisting of four lines. The rhyme scheme is AABB, and the entire poem is written in iambic tetrameter. The use of this structured form brings out the uniformity of war and the monotony that soldiers experience.
In the first stanza, Hardy sets the scene for the rest of the poem. He describes the two soldiers, who have been left behind in the battlefield. The use of the word "subalterns" is significant because it refers to the lower-ranked officers who are often left to bear the brunt of the war. The fact that they have been left behind suggests that they are not considered important enough to be rescued.
The second stanza describes the condition of the soldiers. The phrase "mute and motionless" suggests that they are severely injured and unable to move. The use of the word "dazed" hints at the trauma that soldiers often experience during a war. The description of the "gaping wounds" highlights the brutality of war and the physical toll that it takes on individuals.
The third stanza brings out the internal conflict of the soldiers. The phrase "unavailing strife" suggests that they are aware of the futility of the war they are fighting. The use of the word "vexed" suggests that they are struggling with their own thoughts and emotions. The phrase "pale remorse" suggests that they regret their decision to go to war and are now paying the price for it.
The fourth stanza is perhaps the most powerful of all. The phrase "the eternal note of sadness" suggests that the soldiers are resigned to their fate and have accepted that they will not survive. The use of the word "eternal" suggests that the sadness and loss caused by war is endless and never-ending. The phrase "broken-hearted they lie" highlights the emotional toll that war takes on individuals.
Interpretation of "The Subalterns"
"The Subalterns" is a poignant commentary on the senselessness of war and the human cost that it entails. Hardy brings out the physical, emotional, and psychological toll that war takes on individuals. The two soldiers in the poem are representative of the countless individuals who have lost their lives in wars throughout history.
The use of the structured form and the uniformity of the rhyme scheme suggests that war is a monotonous and predictable activity, where individuals are forced to go through the same motions over and over again. The repetition of the word "motionless" in the second stanza highlights the fact that soldiers often have no agency during a war and are at the mercy of their superiors.
The use of the phrase "unavailing strife" in the third stanza suggests that the soldiers are aware of the futility of the war they are fighting. They are struggling with their own thoughts and emotions, which suggests that war is not just a physical activity but also a mental and emotional one.
The phrase "broken-hearted they lie" in the fourth stanza suggests that war breaks individuals not just physically but also emotionally. The soldiers are resigned to their fate and have accepted that they will not survive. This highlights the fact that war not only takes away lives but also robs individuals of their hope and optimism.
In conclusion, "The Subalterns" is a powerful poem that examines the human cost of war. Hardy brings out the physical, emotional, and psychological toll that war takes on individuals. The poem is a poignant commentary on the senselessness of war and the inherent brutality that it entails. Through his words, Hardy urges us to reflect on the futility of war and to strive for peace and harmony in the world.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Subalterns: A Masterpiece of Poetry by Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, the renowned English novelist and poet, is known for his profound and insightful works that explore the complexities of human emotions and relationships. One of his most celebrated poems, The Subalterns, is a masterpiece that captures the essence of the human experience in a powerful and evocative manner.
The Subalterns is a poem that tells the story of three soldiers who are stationed in a remote outpost in India. The soldiers are unnamed, and their identities are not revealed in the poem. However, their experiences and emotions are vividly portrayed, making them relatable to readers from all walks of life.
The poem begins with a description of the soldiers' surroundings. They are stationed in a barren and desolate landscape, where the only signs of life are the occasional bird or lizard. The soldiers are isolated from the rest of the world, and their only connection to civilization is a telegraph line that runs through their outpost.
The first stanza of the poem sets the tone for what is to come. It is a bleak and desolate picture of the soldiers' existence, with the landscape serving as a metaphor for their emotional state. The soldiers are alone and cut off from the rest of the world, and their isolation is palpable.
The second stanza of the poem introduces the soldiers themselves. They are described as "three young men," and their youth is emphasized throughout the poem. They are inexperienced and naive, and their vulnerability is evident in their actions and words.
The soldiers' youth is contrasted with the harsh realities of their situation. They are stationed in a dangerous and hostile environment, where they are constantly at risk of attack from the local tribes. The soldiers are aware of the danger they face, and their fear is palpable.
The third stanza of the poem introduces the theme of death. The soldiers are acutely aware of their mortality, and they are haunted by the possibility of dying in this remote outpost. They are also aware of the fragility of life, and they are struck by the beauty of the natural world around them.
The soldiers' awareness of death is a recurring theme throughout the poem. They are constantly reminded of their mortality, and their fear of death is a constant presence in their lives. However, their fear is tempered by a sense of wonder and awe at the beauty of the world around them.
The fourth stanza of the poem introduces the theme of love. The soldiers are all in love with women back home, and their longing for these women is palpable. They are separated from their loved ones by distance and time, and their separation is a source of great pain and sadness.
The soldiers' love for their women is a powerful force in their lives. It gives them hope and sustains them through the hardships they face. However, their love is also a source of pain, as they are separated from the women they love by distance and time.
The fifth stanza of the poem introduces the theme of duty. The soldiers are aware of their responsibilities as soldiers, and they take their duty seriously. They are committed to their mission, and they are willing to sacrifice their lives for their country.
The soldiers' sense of duty is a source of pride and honor for them. They are committed to their mission, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to fulfill their responsibilities. However, their sense of duty is also a source of conflict, as they are torn between their duty and their desire to be with their loved ones.
The sixth and final stanza of the poem brings all of these themes together. The soldiers are described as "subalterns," a term that refers to junior officers in the British army. They are young and inexperienced, but they are also brave and committed to their mission.
The soldiers' experiences are universal, and their emotions are relatable to readers from all walks of life. The poem is a powerful exploration of the human experience, and it captures the essence of what it means to be human in a profound and evocative manner.
In conclusion, The Subalterns is a masterpiece of poetry that explores the complexities of the human experience in a powerful and evocative manner. Thomas Hardy's vivid and insightful portrayal of the soldiers' experiences and emotions makes them relatable to readers from all walks of life. The poem is a testament to the power of poetry to capture the essence of the human experience and to touch the hearts and minds of readers in a profound and meaningful way.
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