'Domicilium' by Thomas Hardy
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It faces west, and round the back and sidesHigh beeches, bending, hang a veil of boughs,And sweep against the roof. Wild honeysucksClimb on the walls, and seem to sprout a wish(If we may fancy wish of trees and plants)To overtop the apple trees hard-by.Red roses, lilacs, variegated boxAre there in plenty, and such hardy flowersAs flourish best untrained. Adjoining theseAre herbs and esculents; and farther stillA field; then cottages with trees, and lastThe distant hills and sky.Behind, the scene is wilder. Heath and furzeAre everything that seems to grow and thriveUpon the uneven ground. A stunted thornStands here and there, indeed; and from a pitAn oak uprises, Springing from a seedDropped by some bird a hundred years ago.In days bygone--Long gone--my father's mother, who is nowBlest with the blest, would take me out to walk.At such a time I once inquired of herHow looked the spot when first she settled here.The answer I remember. 'Fifty yearsHave passed since then, my child, and change has markedThe face of all things. Yonder garden-plotsAnd orchards were uncultivated slopesO'ergrown with bramble bushes, furze and thorn:That road a narrow path shut in by ferns,Which, almost trees, obscured the passers-by.Our house stood quite alone, and those tall firsAnd beeches were not planted. Snakes and eftsSwarmed in the summer days, and nightly batsWould fly about our bedrooms. HeathcroppersLived on the hills, and were our only friends;So wild it was when we first settled here.'
Editor 1 Interpretation
An In-Depth Look at Thomas Hardy's "Domicilium"
There are some poems that are so powerful and evocative, they stay with you long after you've finished reading them. Thomas Hardy's "Domicilium" is one such piece, offering a haunting glimpse into the decay and loss that can come with the passing of time. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we'll delve into the imagery, themes, and symbolism of this classic work.
Background on Thomas Hardy
Before we dive into "Domicilium" itself, it's worth taking a moment to appreciate the man behind the words. Thomas Hardy was a prolific and highly-regarded English writer, known for his novels as well as his poetry. He was born in 1840 in Dorset, England, and spent much of his early life in rural areas. This connection to the land and the natural world is apparent in much of his work.
Hardy was also deeply affected by the changes occurring in England during his lifetime, particularly the shift from an agricultural society to an industrial one. This sense of loss, of a way of life slipping away, is a recurring theme in his writing. It's no surprise, then, that "Domicilium" reflects this same melancholic tone.
An Overview of "Domicilium"
"Domicilium" was published in 1892 as part of Hardy's collection "Wessex Poems and Other Verses." The poem is divided into five sections, or stanzas, each with its own distinct imagery and atmosphere.
The word "domicilium" means "dwelling place," and it's clear from the start that the poem is concerned with a specific location. In fact, the first line immediately sets the scene: "A shattered roof, mossed walls before, / An old house crumbling to the floor."
From here, the poem unfolds as a meditation on the passage of time and the inevitable decay that accompanies it. Hardy paints a vivid picture of a once-beautiful house that has fallen into disrepair. We see the "crumbling crest" of the roof, the "mouldering walls," and the "chimney-stacks that once were proud." This imagery is both striking and poignant, evoking a sense of sadness at the loss of something that was once grand and beautiful.
As the poem continues, Hardy goes on to describe the natural world that has taken over the abandoned house. We see the "tangled bine-stems" that have grown up around the walls, the "nettle-flowers" that bloom in the yard. These details serve to underscore the idea that nature will always find a way to reclaim what has been lost.
Finally, the poem ends with a sense of resignation. Hardy notes that the house will never be restored to its former glory, but muses that perhaps its decay is not entirely without purpose. The final lines read:
And yet - who knows? - our own decay May be but nature's hiving-time When heaven's winds shall carry away The house-swept hive of life's best prime, Which now, to bees of the world's mood, Is dulness, death, and solitude.
These lines are particularly striking, as they suggest that the decay of the house is not necessarily a negative thing. Rather, it may be part of a larger cycle of life and death. This idea is both comforting and unsettling, leaving the reader with much to ponder.
Imagery in "Domicilium"
One of the most powerful aspects of "Domicilium" is its use of vivid, sensory imagery. Hardy's descriptions of the abandoned house and its surroundings are both beautiful and haunting.
One particularly striking example is in the second stanza, where Hardy describes the "chimney-stacks that once were proud." This line is so simple, yet so effective; we can almost see the decaying bricks, hear the sound of the wind whistling through the cracks.
Another powerful image is in the third stanza, where Hardy writes of the "nettle-flowers" that have taken over the yard. The juxtaposition of the delicate flowers with the prickly nettles creates a sense of tension and unease. We are reminded that even beauty can be dangerous, and that nothing is truly permanent.
Overall, Hardy's use of imagery in "Domicilium" serves to create a vivid, evocative picture of a world in flux. We can almost feel the passage of time as we read, and are left with a sense of both beauty and sadness.
Themes in "Domicilium"
As with much of Hardy's work, "Domicilium" deals with themes of loss, decay, and the passage of time. The poem is concerned with the idea that nothing is permanent, and that even the most beautiful things will eventually crumble and fade away.
One particularly interesting theme in the poem is the idea of nature as a force that is both powerful and inevitable. We see this in Hardy's descriptions of the natural world that has taken over the abandoned house. The "tangled bine-stems" and "nettle-flowers" are both beautiful and unsettling, reminding us that nature will always find a way to reclaim what has been lost.
Another theme in "Domicilium" is the idea that decay and loss can sometimes be a positive thing. This is suggested in the final lines of the poem, where Hardy muses that perhaps the decay of the house is not entirely without purpose. This idea is both comforting and unsettling, leaving the reader with much to ponder.
Overall, "Domicilium" is a poignant meditation on the passage of time and the inevitability of decay. It's a reminder that nothing is forever, and that even the most beautiful things will eventually crumble and fade away.
Symbolism in "Domicilium"
As with much of Hardy's poetry, there is a great deal of symbolism in "Domicilium." One of the most obvious symbols is the abandoned house itself, which stands in for the transience of all things. The house was once grand and beautiful, but has now fallen into disrepair. This serves as a reminder that even the most impressive achievements and creations will eventually crumble and fade away.
Another interesting symbol in the poem is the natural world that has taken over the abandoned house. The "tangled bine-stems" and "nettle-flowers" represent the idea that nature will always find a way to reclaim what has been lost. This serves as a powerful reminder that even our most impressive accomplishments are ultimately insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Finally, there is the symbol of the bees in the final lines of the poem. The bees represent the cyclical nature of life and death, and the idea that decay and loss may not be entirely negative. This serves as a comforting reminder that even though all things must eventually pass away, there is still meaning and purpose in the world.
In conclusion, Thomas Hardy's "Domicilium" is a powerful meditation on the passage of time and the inevitability of decay. Through vivid imagery, poignant themes, and evocative symbolism, Hardy creates a haunting picture of a world in flux. The poem is a reminder that even the most beautiful things will eventually crumble and fade away, but that there is still meaning and purpose to be found in the world.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Domicilium: A Masterpiece by Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, the renowned English novelist and poet, is known for his exceptional literary works that explore the complexities of human emotions and relationships. One of his most celebrated poems, Poetry Domicilium, is a masterpiece that captures the essence of the poet's life and his relationship with poetry.
The poem is a reflection of Hardy's personal experiences and his love for poetry. It is a tribute to the power of poetry and its ability to provide solace and comfort to the poet in times of distress. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which explores a different aspect of the poet's relationship with poetry.
The first stanza of the poem describes the poet's physical surroundings. Hardy describes his home as a place where he can find peace and solitude. The use of words such as "quiet" and "still" creates a sense of calmness and tranquility. The poet's home is also described as a place where he can escape from the chaos of the outside world. The use of the word "retreat" suggests that the poet's home is a sanctuary where he can find refuge from the stresses of everyday life.
The second stanza of the poem explores the poet's relationship with poetry. Hardy describes poetry as a "guest" in his home. The use of the word "guest" suggests that poetry is not a permanent resident in the poet's life, but rather a visitor who comes and goes. The poet also describes poetry as a "friend" who provides him with comfort and solace. The use of the word "friend" suggests that poetry is a source of emotional support for the poet.
The third stanza of the poem is a reflection on the poet's mortality. Hardy describes his home as a place where he will eventually die. The use of the word "domicilium" suggests that the poet's home is not just a physical space, but also a symbol of his life. The poet acknowledges that he will eventually leave his home and his life behind, but he takes comfort in the fact that poetry will continue to exist long after he is gone.
The poem is written in free verse, which allows the poet to express his thoughts and emotions in a natural and unstructured way. The use of enjambment, where a sentence or phrase continues onto the next line, creates a sense of fluidity and movement in the poem. The poem also makes use of imagery, such as the description of the poet's home as a "retreat" and a "domicilium", which creates a vivid picture in the reader's mind.
The poem is a testament to the power of poetry and its ability to provide comfort and solace to those who are struggling. Hardy's use of language and imagery creates a sense of calmness and tranquility, which is reflective of the poet's own relationship with poetry. The poem is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, poetry can provide a glimmer of hope and a sense of peace.
In conclusion, Poetry Domicilium is a masterpiece by Thomas Hardy that explores the poet's relationship with poetry and his own mortality. The poem is a tribute to the power of poetry and its ability to provide comfort and solace to those who are struggling. Hardy's use of language and imagery creates a vivid picture in the reader's mind and creates a sense of calmness and tranquility. The poem is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, poetry can provide a glimmer of hope and a sense of peace.
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