'The Fire At Tranter Sweatley's' by Thomas Hardy

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They had long met o' Zundays--her true love and she--And at junketings, maypoles, and flings;But she bode wi' a thirtover uncle, and heSwore by noon and by night that her goodman should beNaibor Sweatley--a gaffer oft weak at the kneeFrom taking o' sommat more cheerful than tea--Who tranted, and moved people's things.She cried, "O pray pity me!" Nought would he hear;Then with wild rainy eyes she obeyed,She chid when her Love was for clinking off wi' her.The pa'son was told, as the season drew nearTo throw over pu'pit the names of the peäirAs fitting one flesh to be made.The wedding-day dawned and the morning drew on;The couple stood bridegroom and bride;The evening was passed, and when midnight had goneThe folks horned out, "God save the King," and anonThe two home-along gloomily hied.The lover Tim Tankens mourned heart-sick and drearTo be thus of his darling deprived:He roamed in the dark ath'art field, mound, and mere,And, a'most without knowing it, found himself nearThe house of the tranter, and now of his Dear,Where the lantern-light showed 'em arrived.The bride sought her cham'er so calm and so paleThat a Northern had thought her resigned;But to eyes that had seen her in tide-times of weal,Like the white cloud o' smoke, the red battlefield's vail,That look spak' of havoc behind.The bridegroom yet laitered a beaker to drain,Then reeled to the linhay for more,When the candle-snoff kindled some chaff from his grain--Flames spread, and red vlankers, wi' might and wi' main,And round beams, thatch, and chimley-tun roar.Young Tim away yond, rafted up by the light,Through brimble and underwood tears,Till he comes to the orchet, when crooping thererightIn the lewth of a codlin-tree, bivering wi' fright,Wi' on'y her night-rail to screen her from sight,His lonesome young Barbree appears.Her cwold little figure half-naked he viewsPlayed about by the frolicsome breeze,Her light-tripping totties, her ten little tooes,All bare and besprinkled wi' Fall's chilly dews,While her great gallied eyes, through her hair hanging loose,Sheened as stars through a tardle o' trees.She eyed en; and, as when a weir-hatch is drawn,Her tears, penned by terror afore,With a rushing of sobs in a shower were strawn,Till her power to pour 'em seemed wasted and goneFrom the heft o' misfortune she bore."O Tim, my own Tim I must call 'ee--I will!All the world ha' turned round on me so!Can you help her who loved 'ee, though acting so ill?Can you pity her misery--feel for her still?When worse than her body so quivering and chillIs her heart in its winter o' woe!"I think I mid almost ha' borne it," she said,"Had my griefs one by one come to hand;But O, to be slave to thik husbird for bread,And then, upon top o' that, driven to wed,And then, upon top o' that, burnt out o' bed,Is more than my nater can stand!"Tim's soul like a lion 'ithin en outsprung--(Tim had a great soul when his feelings were wrung)--"Feel for 'ee, dear Barbree?" he cried;And his warm working-jacket about her he flung,Made a back, horsed her up, till behind him she clungLike a chiel on a gipsy, her figure uphungBy the sleeves that around her he tied.Over piggeries, and mixens, and apples, and hay,They lumpered straight into the night;And finding bylong where a halter-path lay,At dawn reached Tim's house, on'y seen on their wayBy a naibor or two who were up wi' the day;But they gathered no clue to the sight.Then tender Tim Tankens he searched here and thereFor some garment to clothe her fair skin;But though he had breeches and waistcoats to spare,He had nothing quite seemly for Barbree to wear,Who, half shrammed to death, stood and cried on a chairAt the caddle she found herself in.There was one thing to do, and that one thing he did,He lent her some clouts of his own,And she took 'em perforce; and while in 'em she slid,Tim turned to the winder, as modesty bid,Thinking, "O that the picter my duty keeps hidTo the sight o' my eyes mid be shown!"In the tallet he stowed her; there huddied she lay,Shortening sleeves, legs, and tails to her limbs;But most o' the time in a mortal bad way,Well knowing that there'd be the divel to payIf 'twere found that, instead o' the elements' prey,She was living in lodgings at Tim's."Where's the tranter?" said men and boys; "where can er be?""Where's the tranter?" said Barbree alone."Where on e'th is the tranter?" said everybod-y:They sifted the dust of his perished roof-tree,And all they could find was a bone.Then the uncle cried, "Lord, pray have mercy on me!"And in terror began to repent.But before 'twas complete, and till sure she was free,Barbree drew up her loft-ladder, tight turned her key--Tim bringing up breakfast and dinner and tea--Till the news of her hiding got vent.Then followed the custom-kept rout, shout, and flareOf a skimmington-ride through the naiborhood, ereFolk had proof o' wold Sweatley's decay.Whereupon decent people all stood in a stare,Saying Tim and his lodger should risk it, and pair:So he took her to church. An' some laughing lads thereCried to Tim, "After Sweatley!" She said, "I declareI stand as a maiden to-day!"

Editor 1 Interpretation

#The Fire At Tranter Sweatley's: A Masterpiece By Thomas Hardy

Are you a fan of poetry that tells a story? Have you ever read a poem that left you breathless with its powerful imagery and vivid descriptions? If so, then you need to add Thomas Hardy's "The Fire At Tranter Sweatley's" to your reading list. This classic piece of literature is a true masterpiece that combines the beauty of poetry with the excitement of a gripping narrative. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the themes, imagery, and symbolism in this poem, and show why it is a must-read for any lover of poetry.

##The Story

"The Fire At Tranter Sweatley's" is a poem that tells the story of a devastating fire that destroys the home of a poor farmer named Tranter Sweatley. The poem begins with a description of the fire, which is so intense that it can be seen for miles around. We are then introduced to Tranter Sweatley, who is described as an old man with a wife and a daughter. As the fire rages on, Sweatley is forced to watch as his home and everything he owns is consumed by the flames.

But the poem is not just a story of a man losing his home. It is also a commentary on the harsh realities of life in rural England. The poem paints a vivid picture of the poverty and hardship that many farmers faced during this time period. It shows how fragile their existence was, and how one disaster could wipe out everything they had worked for.

##The Themes

One of the main themes of the poem is the fragility of human existence. The fire that destroys Tranter Sweatley's home is a reminder that life is unpredictable, and that we are often at the mercy of forces beyond our control. This theme is echoed in the poem's descriptions of the harsh landscape of rural England, where farmers struggle to eke out a living in a world that is indifferent to their struggles.

Another theme of the poem is the power of nature. The fire is described in vivid detail, with images of flames leaping high into the sky and smoke billowing into the air. The poem shows how nature can be both beautiful and destructive, and how we must always be prepared for the worst.

##The Imagery

One of the things that makes "The Fire At Tranter Sweatley's" such a powerful poem is its use of vivid imagery. The poem is full of descriptions that paint a picture in the reader's mind, from the smoke rising from the fire to the sound of the flames crackling in the night. This imagery helps to bring the poem to life, and makes the reader feel as if they are right there beside Tranter Sweatley as he watches his home burn to the ground.

##The Symbolism

"The Fire At Tranter Sweatley's" is also rich in symbolism. The fire itself can be seen as a metaphor for the destructive power of nature, and for the unpredictable nature of life itself. The image of the flames consuming everything in their path can also be seen as a commentary on the way that poverty and hardship can strip away everything that we hold dear.

Another symbol in the poem is the landscape of rural England. The harsh, unforgiving terrain can be seen as a metaphor for the challenges that farmers face in their daily lives. It is a reminder that life is not always easy, and that we must work hard to survive in a world that can be cruel and unforgiving.


In conclusion, "The Fire At Tranter Sweatley's" is a true masterpiece of poetry. It combines powerful imagery, vivid descriptions, and poignant themes to create a work that is both beautiful and haunting. Through its depiction of a devastating fire and the harsh realities of life in rural England, the poem reminds us of the fragility of human existence and the power of nature. It is a must-read for anyone who loves poetry, and a testament to the talent of Thomas Hardy as a writer.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Fire At Tranter Sweatley's: A Masterpiece of Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy, one of the most celebrated poets of the Victorian era, is known for his profound and melancholic works. His poetry often reflects the struggles and hardships of rural life in England during the 19th century. One of his most famous poems, "The Fire at Tranter Sweatley's," is a perfect example of his style and themes.

The poem tells the story of a fire that breaks out in the small village of Casterbridge, destroying the home of Tranter Sweatley, a poor farmer. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each describing a different aspect of the fire and its aftermath.

In the first stanza, Hardy sets the scene and describes the fire as it spreads through the village. He uses vivid imagery to paint a picture of the chaos and destruction caused by the flames. The lines "The flame now threw / A tongue at the straw and a long thin screw / At the wheat stacks," create a sense of urgency and danger, as the fire threatens to consume everything in its path.

Hardy also uses personification to give the fire a life of its own. He describes it as "a dragon spitting / Its venomous tongue with a hissing kiss / At the things that were hissing." This personification adds to the sense of danger and unpredictability of the fire.

In the second stanza, Hardy shifts his focus to the people affected by the fire. He describes the villagers as they gather to watch the flames, and the emotions they experience as they watch their homes and possessions burn. The lines "The women were weeping, the men said low / Words of cheer to each other," show the sense of community and support that exists in the face of tragedy.

Hardy also uses this stanza to introduce the character of Tranter Sweatley. He describes him as "a man of no account," highlighting his poverty and low social status. Despite this, Hardy shows sympathy for Sweatley and his plight, describing how he "stood in the crowd, as aloof as one / Cast out from the fellowship of his kind."

In the final stanza, Hardy brings the poem to a close by describing the aftermath of the fire. He shows how the villagers come together to help Sweatley and his family, providing them with food and shelter. The lines "And they gave him clothes, and meat, and fire, / And a roof against the sky" show the compassion and generosity of the community.

However, Hardy also shows the lasting impact of the fire on Sweatley and his family. The lines "But he and his wife could not forget / Their loss in the night of fear and fret" show how the trauma of the fire will stay with them for a long time.

Overall, "The Fire at Tranter Sweatley's" is a powerful and moving poem that captures the struggles and hardships of rural life in Victorian England. Hardy's use of vivid imagery, personification, and sympathetic characterisation make the poem a masterpiece of English literature.

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