'Midnight On The Great Western' by Thomas Hardy
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Moments of Vision1917In the third-class seat sat the journeying boy,And the roof-lamp's oily flamePlayed down on his listless form and face,Bewrapt past knowing to what he was going,Or whence he came.In the band of his hat the journeying boyHad a ticket stuck; and a stringAround his neck bore the key of his box,That twinkled gleams of the lamp's sad beamsLike a living thing.What past can be yours, O journeying boyTowards a world uknown,Who calmly, as if incurious quiteOn all at stake, can undertakeThis plunge alone?Knows your soul a sphere, O journeying boy,Our rude realms far above,Whence with spacious vision you mark and meteThis region of sin that you find you in,But are not of?
Editor 1 Interpretation
Midnight On The Great Western: A Critical Interpretation
Thomas Hardy's "Midnight On The Great Western" is a poem that captures the essence of loneliness and desperation in the modern world. This poem, written in 1901, is a reflection of the changing times and the challenges that people faced as they made their way through life. The poem is one that is filled with powerful imagery and symbolism that speaks to the reader on many levels. In this critical interpretation, we will explore the various themes and symbols present in the poem and how they relate to the overall message of the poem.
Before we delve into the poem itself, it is important to have a brief background on the poet, Thomas Hardy. Hardy was an English novelist and poet who lived from 1840 to 1928. He is considered one of the most important writers of the late Victorian era and is known for his realistic portrayals of rural life and his exploration of the human condition. His works often focus on the struggles of everyday people and their relationships with one another.
"Midnight On The Great Western" was written in 1901, the same year that Queen Victoria died. It was a time of great change in England, with the advent of new technology and the growth of cities. This poem reflects the changing times and the feelings of dislocation and loneliness that many people experienced during this period.
One of the main themes of "Midnight On The Great Western" is that of loneliness and isolation. The speaker of the poem is on a train, surrounded by other people, yet he feels completely alone. He describes the other passengers as "phantom shapes" and "ghostly figures" who are "mute and motionless". This sense of isolation is further emphasized by the darkness outside the train, with the only light coming from the lamp in the carriage.
The theme of time is also present in the poem. The speaker is traveling through the night, and the passing hours are marked by the sound of the train's whistle. The sense of time passing is further emphasized by the repetition of the phrase "And now" throughout the poem. The passing of time is a reminder of the transience of life and the inevitability of change.
Another theme present in the poem is that of death. The speaker describes the train as a "coffin" and the passengers as "shrouded forms". The darkness outside the train is also a reminder of the unknown and the possibility of death. The poem suggests that death is a constant presence in life, lurking just beneath the surface.
One of the most powerful symbols in the poem is that of the train itself. The train is a symbol of progress and modernity, yet it is also a symbol of loneliness and isolation. The train is moving rapidly through the night, yet the passengers are trapped inside, unable to escape their own thoughts and feelings. The train is also a symbol of death, with the speaker describing it as a "coffin" that is carrying the passengers towards an unknown destination.
The darkness outside the train is another powerful symbol in the poem. The darkness represents the unknown and the possibility of death. The only light in the darkness comes from the lamp in the carriage, which is a symbol of hope and comfort in the midst of despair.
The repetition of the phrase "And now" throughout the poem is also a powerful symbol. This repetition emphasizes the passing of time and the inevitability of change. It is a reminder that life is constantly in motion, and that we cannot stop the march of time.
"Midnight On The Great Western" is a poem that speaks to the challenges and struggles of modern life. The poem captures the sense of isolation and loneliness that many people feel in the midst of a rapidly changing world. The train is a powerful symbol of progress and modernity, yet it is also a symbol of death and isolation. The darkness outside the train is a reminder of the unknown and the possibility of death. The repetition of the phrase "And now" emphasizes the passing of time and the inevitability of change.
The poem suggests that life is a journey, and that we are all passengers on a train that is hurtling towards an unknown destination. We are surrounded by others, yet we are all alone in our own thoughts and feelings. The darkness outside the train represents the unknown and the possibility of death, yet the light from the lamp in the carriage is a symbol of hope and comfort in the midst of despair.
Overall, "Midnight On The Great Western" is a powerful poem that speaks to the universal human experience of loneliness, isolation, and the passing of time. It is a reminder that we are all on a journey, and that we must find a way to make sense of our lives in the midst of a rapidly changing world.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Midnight On The Great Western: A Masterpiece of Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, the renowned English novelist and poet, is known for his exceptional ability to capture the essence of rural life and the human condition. His works are characterized by their vivid imagery, emotional depth, and philosophical musings. Among his many masterpieces, "Midnight On The Great Western" stands out as a shining example of his poetic prowess. This poem, written in 1899, is a hauntingly beautiful tribute to the railway and the people who travel on it. In this analysis, we will delve into the themes, imagery, and symbolism of this classic poem.
The poem begins with a vivid description of the train, "The Great Western," as it hurtles through the night. Hardy's use of sensory imagery is particularly effective in creating a sense of movement and speed. The train is described as "thundering," "roaring," and "rattling," which gives the reader a sense of the power and energy of the locomotive. The use of onomatopoeia, such as "clatter" and "clank," adds to the sense of urgency and excitement.
As the train speeds through the night, the passengers are described as "huddled" and "drowsy." This creates a sense of intimacy and vulnerability, as the passengers are forced to share a confined space with strangers. The use of the word "drowsy" suggests that the passengers are tired and perhaps even a little disoriented, which adds to the sense of unease.
The poem then takes a turn towards the philosophical, as Hardy muses on the nature of life and death. He writes, "And thus we rush, O night!/With the hours at dead of night." This suggests that life is a journey that we are all on, and that we are all hurtling towards our inevitable end. The use of the word "rush" suggests that life is fleeting and that we must make the most of our time on earth.
Hardy then introduces the character of the "old man," who is described as "nodding" and "dozing." The old man is a symbol of mortality, as he represents the end of life's journey. The use of the word "nodding" suggests that the old man is on the verge of falling asleep, which is a metaphor for death. The old man is also described as "dozing," which suggests that he is at peace with his fate and is ready to embrace the end of his journey.
The poem then takes a turn towards the surreal, as Hardy describes the train passing through a "tunnel." This tunnel is a symbol of the unknown, as it represents the darkness and uncertainty that we all face in life. The use of the word "gloom" suggests that the tunnel is a place of fear and anxiety, but also of possibility and adventure.
As the train emerges from the tunnel, Hardy describes the landscape as "ghostly." This suggests that the passengers are entering a new realm, one that is unfamiliar and perhaps even supernatural. The use of the word "ghostly" also suggests that the passengers are entering a world of the dead, which adds to the sense of unease and foreboding.
The poem then takes a turn towards the romantic, as Hardy describes the moonlit landscape. He writes, "The moon in a silver mist/Enfolds the world in a dreamy list." This suggests that the moon is a symbol of hope and beauty, and that even in the midst of darkness and uncertainty, there is still a glimmer of light.
Hardy then introduces the character of the "girl," who is described as "fair" and "young." The girl is a symbol of life and vitality, as she represents the beginning of life's journey. The use of the word "fair" suggests that the girl is pure and innocent, and that she has not yet been tainted by the harsh realities of life.
The poem then takes a turn towards the tragic, as Hardy describes the girl's fate. He writes, "And she lies in a trance of grief/Whose life is a leaf." This suggests that the girl's life is short and fragile, like a leaf that is easily blown away by the wind. The use of the word "trance" suggests that the girl is in a state of shock and disbelief, as she comes to terms with the harsh realities of life.
The poem then ends with a sense of ambiguity, as Hardy writes, "And the train smites/Into the night." This suggests that life goes on, even in the face of tragedy and uncertainty. The use of the word "smites" suggests that life is a force to be reckoned with, and that we must all be prepared to face its challenges.
In conclusion, "Midnight On The Great Western" is a masterpiece of Thomas Hardy's poetic oeuvre. It is a hauntingly beautiful tribute to the railway and the people who travel on it, and it is a meditation on the nature of life and death. Through his use of vivid imagery, symbolism, and philosophical musings, Hardy creates a poem that is both timeless and universal. It is a poem that speaks to the human condition, and it is a poem that will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.
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