'To My Father's Violin' by Thomas Hardy

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Does he want you down there
In the Nether Glooms where
The hours may be a dragging load upon him,
As he hears the axle grind
Round and round
Of the great world, in the blind
Still profound
Of the night-time?He might liven at the sound
Of your string, revealing you had not forgone him.

In the gallery west the nave,
But a few yards from his grave,
Did you, tucked beneath his chin, to his bowing
Guide the homely harmony
Of the quire
Who for long years strenuously -
Son and sire -
Caught the strains that at his fingering low or higher
From your four thin threads and eff-holes came outflowing.

And, too, what merry tunes
He would bow at nights or noons
That chanced to find him bent to lute a measure,
When he made you speak his heart
As in dream,
Without book or music-chart,
On some theme
Elusive as a jack-o'-lanthorn's gleam,
And the psalm of duty shelved for trill of pleasure.

Well, you can not, alas,
The barrier overpass
That screens him in those Mournful Meads hereunder,
Where no fiddling can be heard
In the glades
Of silentness, no bird
Thrills the shades;
Where no viol is touched for songs or serenades,
No bowing wakes a congregation's wonder.

He must do without you now,
Stir you no more anyhow
To yearning concords taught you in your glory;
While, your strings a tangled wreck,
Once smart drawn,
Ten worm-wounds in your neck,
Purflings wan
With dust-hoar, here alone I sadly con
Your present dumbness, shape your olden story.


Editor 1 Interpretation

An In-Depth Exploration of Thomas Hardy's Poem "To My Father's Violin"

As a renowned novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy has contributed several works to the literary world. Among his famous poems is "To My Father's Violin," which reflects on the emotional connection between a father and his son through the medium of music. This poem is both tender and poignant, evoking strong emotions and memories in readers who have experienced a similar relationship.

Overview of the Poem

The poem "To My Father's Violin" comprises of two stanzas with equal lengths, consisting of eight lines each. The first stanza is a description of the violin and the memories it brings back. The second stanza is a reflection on the father-son relationship, with the violin serving as a metaphor for the bond between them.

Analysis of the Poem

The poem opens with a rich description of the father's violin. The first line, "The parish-clerk taught me to play," sets the tone for the poem, implying that the speaker learned how to play the instrument from someone outside of his immediate family. The violin, however, is not just any instrument; it is the father's violin, which holds a special place in the speaker's heart. The second line, "On Sundays, when the church-bells rang," suggests that the father would play the violin during church services, perhaps adding to the religious connotation of the poem.

The third line, "On weekdays, when at home we sang," implies a ritualistic quality to the father's playing. The violin was not just a means of entertainment but an integral part of the family's daily routine. The fourth line, "He'd sit beneath the tree or wall," highlights the father's love for the outdoors and his desire to share his music with others. The image of the father playing his violin in the open air evokes feelings of peace and contentment.

The fifth line, "And I would stand beside him there," serves as a transition between the description of the violin and the father-son relationship. The speaker positions himself as a student, learning from his father and being mentored by him. The sixth line, "And gaze at the fine bow-hand," emphasizes the speaker's admiration for his father's skill and technique. The seventh line, "That he'd so often lent to mine," suggests that the father was not only a skilled musician but also a patient teacher. The father had allowed his son to use his bow and learn from him, which speaks to the father's generosity and kindness.

The final line of the first stanza, "But now I do it all alone," is a stark contrast to the previous seven lines. The speaker is no longer learning from his father, and the violin is no longer a shared experience between them. The word "alone" emphasizes the absence of the father and the sense of loss that the speaker feels. This line serves as a transition to the second stanza, which explores the relationship between the father and son in more depth.

The second stanza begins with a rhetorical question, "Did he foresee what I should be?" The question suggests that the father had a vision of his son's future and the potential that he held. The speaker goes on to say that his father's "eyes were keen to mark." This line emphasizes the father's attentiveness and his interest in his son's development. The third line, "But made no sign, and let things be," implies that the father did not interfere in his son's choices but allowed him to follow his own path.

The fourth line, "Save that he often looked me through," suggests that the father was a keen observer of his son's character and personality. The image of the father looking "through" his son implies that he saw beyond the surface and understood his son on a deeper level. The fifth line, "And praised my features for my use," suggests that the father valued his son's talents and encouraged him to pursue them.

The sixth line, "Now, twenty years have swirled away," is a reminder of the passage of time and the changing nature of relationships. The speaker reflects on the distance that has grown between him and his father over the years. The seventh line, "Since he, too, went his silent way," is a reference to the father's death. The word "silent" emphasizes the finality of death and the absence of the father's presence.

The final line, "And I am left with yesterday," is a powerful conclusion to the poem. The word "yesterday" suggests that the speaker is left with memories of his father and their shared experiences. The image of the father's violin serves as a metaphor for the bond between them, which has been broken by death. The poem ends with a sense of longing and nostalgia, highlighting the deep emotional connection between a father and his son.

Interpretation of the Poem

"To My Father's Violin" is a poem about the passing of time and the changing nature of relationships. The violin serves as a metaphor for the bond between the father and son, which is broken by the father's death. The poem explores the emotional complexity of this relationship, highlighting the father's generosity and kindness, as well as his attentiveness to his son's development.

The poem also explores the son's sense of loss and nostalgia, as he reflects on the memories of his father and their shared experiences. The poem is not just a personal reflection but a universal one, as it speaks to the experience of losing a loved one and the power of music to evoke memories and emotions.

In conclusion, "To My Father's Violin" is a poignant and emotional poem that explores the complex relationship between a father and his son. The poem is a reminder of the importance of family and the power of music to connect us to our past and our loved ones. Thomas Hardy's use of language and imagery creates a vivid and powerful portrayal of the emotional depth of this relationship, making it a timeless piece of literature that will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry To My Father's Violin: A Masterpiece by Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy, the renowned English novelist and poet, is known for his exceptional ability to capture the essence of human emotions and experiences in his works. One of his most celebrated poems, "Poetry To My Father's Violin," is a beautiful tribute to his father and his love for music. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of this masterpiece and explore its themes, symbolism, and literary devices.

The poem opens with the speaker addressing his father's violin, which he describes as "old and plain." Despite its unremarkable appearance, the violin holds a special place in the speaker's heart, as it reminds him of his father's love for music. The speaker then goes on to describe the various memories associated with the violin, such as the times when his father would play it in the evenings, filling the room with its sweet melodies.

The poem's first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the piece, establishing the speaker's deep emotional connection with the violin and his father. The use of the word "poetry" in the title is significant, as it suggests that the speaker sees music as a form of artistic expression that is just as powerful as poetry. This idea is further reinforced throughout the poem, as the speaker describes the violin's ability to evoke emotions and transport him to another world.

In the second stanza, the speaker reflects on the passage of time and how it has affected the violin. He notes that the instrument has grown old and worn, with its strings no longer as vibrant as they once were. However, despite its age, the violin still holds a special place in the speaker's heart, as it represents a connection to his father and the memories they shared.

The use of imagery in this stanza is particularly effective, as the speaker compares the violin to a "worn-out harp" and a "faded rose." These comparisons not only emphasize the instrument's age but also suggest that it has lost some of its former beauty. However, the speaker's love for the violin remains unchanged, as he sees beyond its physical appearance and recognizes its true value.

The third stanza is perhaps the most poignant of the poem, as the speaker reflects on his father's passing and how the violin serves as a reminder of his legacy. He notes that the instrument has outlived his father, and that it now serves as a symbol of his love for music and his dedication to his craft. The speaker's use of the phrase "silent now" is particularly powerful, as it suggests that the violin's music has been silenced by his father's death.

The final stanza of the poem is a beautiful tribute to the power of music and its ability to transcend time and space. The speaker notes that even though his father is gone, the violin still has the power to transport him to another world, where he can relive the memories of his youth and the times he spent with his father. The use of the phrase "magic of sound" is particularly effective, as it suggests that music has the power to create a sense of wonder and enchantment.

Throughout the poem, Hardy employs a variety of literary devices to enhance its emotional impact. For example, the use of repetition in the phrase "old and plain" emphasizes the speaker's love for the violin despite its unremarkable appearance. Similarly, the use of imagery in the comparisons to a "worn-out harp" and a "faded rose" creates a sense of nostalgia and loss.

The poem's structure is also significant, as it consists of four quatrains with a consistent rhyme scheme (ABCB). This structure creates a sense of unity and coherence, emphasizing the poem's central themes of love, loss, and the power of music.

In conclusion, "Poetry To My Father's Violin" is a beautiful tribute to the power of music and its ability to evoke emotions and memories. Through his use of imagery, repetition, and structure, Hardy creates a powerful and moving piece that captures the essence of the human experience. The poem's themes of love, loss, and the passage of time are universal, making it a timeless masterpiece that will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.

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