'The Pity Of It' by Thomas Hardy
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Moments of Vision1917I walked in loamy Wessex lanes, afar
From rail-track and from highway, and I heard
In field and farmstead many an ancient word
Of local lineage like "Thu bist," "Er war,"
"Ich woll," "Er sholl," and by-talk similar,
Nigh as they speak who in this month's moon gird
At England's very loins, thereunto spurred
By gangs whose glory threats and slaughters are.Then seemed a Heart crying: "Whosoever they be
At root and bottom of this, who flung this flame
Between kin folk kin tongued even as are we,
Sinister, ugly, lurid, be their fame;
May their familiars grow to shun their name,
And their brood perish everlastingly."
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Pity Of It: A Study of Thomas Hardy's Heartbreaking Poetry
Thomas Hardy is a master at capturing the essence of human emotions in his poetry. He paints vivid pictures of life's joys and sorrows, its triumphs and tragedies, and its endless cycles of birth, growth, decay, and death. His poems are poignant, powerful, and deeply moving, and they touch the hearts of readers in ways that few other writers can match.
One of Hardy's most heartbreaking poems is "The Pity Of It." This poem is a powerful meditation on the fleeting nature of life, the inevitability of death, and the endless cycle of suffering that humans must endure. It is a deeply personal and intimate reflection on the human condition, and it reveals much about Hardy's own beliefs and values.
Here is the full text of "The Pity Of It:"
We that have done and thought, That have thought and done, Must ramble, and thin out Like a moorland stone. What of it? We cannot help it. We'll brave it out, Bravely acquit us, And have no doubt That we've made a fuss.
But it's a pity, Pity somehow. We might have clung to Something now.
The poem begins with a reflection on the inevitability of human mortality. Hardy uses the image of a moorland stone to suggest the stubborn, enduring quality of human life, but ultimately acknowledges that even the most enduring things must succumb to the ravages of time. The second stanza expresses a kind of stoic acceptance of this reality, but the final stanza introduces a note of regret. The speaker acknowledges that humans might have clung to something in the face of mortality, but they have not.
The themes of "The Pity Of It" are many and complex, but several stand out as particularly significant. The first theme is mortality itself. Hardy confronts the reality of death head-on, acknowledging that all humans must eventually succumb to it. He does not shy away from the horror and sadness of this reality, but instead confronts it with a kind of stoic acceptance.
The second theme is the importance of human connection. While the poem acknowledges the inevitability of death, it also suggests that humans might have clung to something meaningful in the face of mortality. This something is not defined in the poem, but it is clear that Hardy believes that human connections, whether to other people, to nature, or to some higher spiritual reality, are crucial for human well-being.
The third theme is the futility of human striving. The poem suggests that humans have done and thought, and have made a fuss, but ultimately this striving is futile in the face of mortality. This theme is particularly relevant in our modern world, where people often focus on achieving success and accumulating wealth and possessions, but ultimately these things are meaningless in the face of death.
The power of "The Pity Of It" lies in its stark, simple language and its piercing emotional impact. Hardy's use of the image of a moorland stone, for example, creates a kind of visual metaphor for the stubborn endurance of human life, but also suggests the barren, lifeless quality of that existence. The repetition of the word "bravely" in the second stanza creates a kind of emotional intensity, as the speaker tries to steel himself against the inevitability of death.
The final stanza is particularly powerful, as it introduces a note of regret and longing. The phrase "something now" is deliberately vague, but it suggests that humans might have clung to some kind of meaningful experience or relationship in the face of mortality. The poem leaves it up to the reader to determine what this "something" might be, but it is clear that Hardy believes that human connections are crucial for human well-being and that the lack of such connections is a tragedy.
"The Pity Of It" is a deeply personal and intimate reflection on the human condition. It reveals much about Hardy's own beliefs and values, particularly his belief in the importance of human connection and his acceptance of the inevitability of mortality. The poem is also a meditation on the futility of human striving, suggesting that people should focus on meaningful connections rather than material success.
Overall, "The Pity Of It" is a powerful and moving work of poetry. Its stark, simple language and its piercing emotional impact make it a timeless meditation on the human condition, one that continues to resonate with readers today. Hardy's ability to capture the essence of life's joys and sorrows, its triumphs and tragedies, and its endless cycles of birth, growth, decay, and death, make him one of the greatest poets of all time.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Pity Of It: A Masterpiece by Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, the renowned English novelist and poet, is known for his profound and melancholic works that explore the complexities of human emotions and relationships. One of his most celebrated poems, The Pity Of It, is a poignant reflection on the fleeting nature of life and the inevitability of death. In this 2000-word analysis, we will delve into the themes, structure, and literary devices used in this masterpiece.
The poem is divided into three stanzas, each consisting of four lines. The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, with the speaker lamenting the transience of life. He compares life to a "flower that fades," emphasizing the fragility and impermanence of existence. The use of the word "pity" in the title and the first line of the poem creates a sense of sadness and empathy for the human condition.
In the second stanza, the speaker shifts his focus to the inevitability of death. He describes death as a "shadowy gleaner," suggesting that it is always lurking in the background, waiting to claim its next victim. The use of the word "gleaner" is significant, as it implies that death is a natural part of the cycle of life, just as a farmer must harvest his crops to make way for new growth.
The final stanza is perhaps the most powerful, as the speaker reflects on the futility of human existence. He asks, "What are we set on earth for? Say, to toil; / Nor seek to leave thy tending of the vines, / For all the heat o' the day, till it declines, / And death's mild curfew shall from work assoil." Here, the speaker suggests that our purpose on earth is simply to work and tend to the things around us until death releases us from our duties. The use of the word "curfew" is particularly striking, as it implies that death is a peaceful release from the burdens of life.
Throughout the poem, Hardy employs a range of literary devices to convey his message. One of the most prominent is the use of metaphor. The comparison of life to a flower and death to a gleaner are both powerful metaphors that help to convey the fragility and inevitability of existence. The use of personification is also notable, particularly in the final stanza where death is given the human quality of being able to "assoil" us from our work.
Another literary device used in the poem is alliteration. The repeated use of the "f" sound in the first line of the poem ("Futility of gazing on the past...") creates a sense of melancholy and resignation. The use of repetition is also notable, particularly in the final stanza where the phrase "tending of the vines" is repeated twice, emphasizing the monotony and futility of human existence.
The themes explored in The Pity Of It are universal and timeless. The poem speaks to the human condition and the inevitability of death, reminding us that our time on earth is limited and that we must make the most of it. The theme of mortality is particularly poignant, as it is something that we all must face at some point in our lives.
In conclusion, The Pity Of It is a masterpiece of English literature that explores the fragility and inevitability of human existence. Through the use of powerful metaphors, alliteration, and repetition, Hardy conveys a sense of sadness and empathy for the human condition. The themes explored in the poem are universal and timeless, reminding us of the fleeting nature of life and the importance of making the most of our time on earth.
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