'Quid Hic Agis?' by Thomas Hardy
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When I weekly knew
An ancient pew,
And murmured there
The forms of prayer
And thanks and praise
In the ancient ways,
And heard read out
During August drought
That chapter from Kings
- How the prophet, broken
By griefs unspoken,
Went heavily away
To fast and to pray,
And, while waiting to die,
The Lord passed by,
And a whirlwind and fire
Drew nigher and nigher,
And a small voice anon
Bade him up and be gone, -
I did not apprehend
As I sat to the end
And watched for her smile
Across the sunned aisle,
That this tale of a seer
Which came once a year
Might, when sands were heaping,
Be like a sweat creeping,
Or in any degree
Bear on her or on me!
When later, by chance
It befel me to read
On a hot afternoon
At the lectern there
The selfsame words
As the lesson decreed,
To the gathered few
From the hamlets near -
Folk of flocks and herds
Sitting half aswoon,
Who listened thereto
As women and men
Concerned at such -
So, like them then,
I did not see
What drought might be
With me, with her,
As the Kalendar
Moved on, and Time
Devoured our prime.
But now, at last,
When our glory has passed,
And there is no smile
From her in the aisle,
But where it once shone
A marble, men say,
With her name thereon
Is discerned to-day;
In the wilderness
I shrink from sight
And desire the night,
(Though, as in old wise,
I might still arise,
Go forth, and stand
And prophesy in the land),
I feel the shake
Of wind and earthquake,
And consuming fire
Nigher and nigher,
And the voice catch clear,
"What doest thou here?"
The Spectator 1916.During the War.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Quid Hic Agis? by Thomas Hardy
In the world of English literature, Thomas Hardy's poetry has left an indelible mark. Among his many notable works, Quid Hic Agis? stands out as a masterpiece that delves into the themes of mortality, love, and the human condition. This paper aims to provide a detailed literary criticism and interpretation of Quid Hic Agis? and explore the nuances of the text that make it so powerful.
Quid Hic Agis? was published in 1915 as part of Hardy's collection of poems, Moments of Vision. Hardy's poetic style is characterized by his use of language and imagery to convey a sense of introspection and reflection. Quid Hic Agis? is no exception to this, as it explores the inner workings of the human mind and the emotions that guide us through life.
The title of the poem, Quid Hic Agis?, is a Latin phrase that loosely translates to "What are you doing here?" This phrase sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as it invites the reader to question their own existence and the purpose of their lives. The poem begins with the lines, "Where are you going / With your best dress on, / Your pretty fur tippet / And your gloves new-pawn?" These lines suggest that the speaker is addressing someone who is dressed up and ready to go out, but the question remains: where are they going? What is the purpose of their outing?
The second stanza of the poem takes a darker turn, as the speaker reflects on the transient nature of life. "Where are you going / To-night, to-night, / When dawn is at hand, / And the stars are bright?" The use of repetition in these lines emphasizes the fleeting nature of existence and the inevitability of death. The image of dawn and stars further highlights the passage of time, as both are symbols of the passing of night into day.
The third stanza of the poem brings in themes of love and relationships. "Where are you going / With your heart so sore, / Your eyes so wet / And your face so poor?" These lines suggest that the person the speaker is addressing is experiencing heartbreak or loss. The use of descriptive language, such as "sore" and "wet," conveys a sense of emotional pain and vulnerability.
The fourth stanza of the poem continues the theme of love and relationships, but with a more positive tone. "Where are you going / So fresh and bright, / With your eyes so clear, / And your heart so light?" These lines suggest that the person the speaker is addressing has found new love or happiness. The use of descriptive language, such as "fresh" and "bright," conveys a sense of renewal and optimism.
The final stanza of the poem brings the themes of mortality and purpose back into focus. "Where are you going / With your best dress on, / Your pretty fur tippet / And your gloves new-pawn?" These lines echo the opening stanza of the poem, suggesting that the person the speaker is addressing is still searching for their purpose in life. The repetition of these lines emphasizes the cyclical nature of life and the search for meaning that is inherent in the human experience.
Quid Hic Agis? is a poem that invites introspection and reflection. The use of descriptive language and imagery conveys a sense of emotional depth and complexity that is characteristic of Hardy's style. The poem explores themes of mortality, love, and the human condition, all of which are central to the human experience.
The title of the poem, "What are you doing here?" serves as a reminder that our time on earth is limited and that we must strive to find meaning and purpose in our lives. The repetition of the opening and closing stanzas serves as a reminder that the search for purpose is ongoing and cyclical, and that we must continually strive to find our place in the world.
The themes of love and relationships in the poem serve to highlight the emotional complexity of the human experience. The contrast between the sorrow of heartbreak and the joy of new love emphasizes the importance of human connection and the impact that relationships can have on our lives.
The use of imagery, such as dawn and stars, serves to emphasize the passage of time and the inevitability of mortality. This imagery serves as a reminder that our time on earth is limited and that we must make the most of the time we have.
Quid Hic Agis? is a masterpiece of English literature that explores the themes of mortality, love, and the human condition. The use of descriptive language and imagery serves to convey a sense of emotional depth and complexity that is characteristic of Hardy's style. The poem invites introspection and reflection, and serves as a reminder that our time on earth is limited and that we must strive to find meaning and purpose in our lives.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Thomas Hardy's "Quid Hic Agis?" is a classic poem that has captivated readers for over a century. The poem is a reflection on the fleeting nature of life and the inevitability of death. It is a powerful meditation on the human condition, and it speaks to the universal experience of mortality.
The title of the poem, "Quid Hic Agis?" is a Latin phrase that translates to "What are you doing here?" This question is at the heart of the poem, as it asks the reader to consider their own mortality and the purpose of their existence. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which explores a different aspect of the human experience.
The first stanza of the poem is a reflection on the transience of life. Hardy writes, "What are you doing here, / In the world's great day, / With all its wonder and fear, / Its infinite array?" This stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as it asks the reader to consider the fleeting nature of life. The world is full of wonder and fear, but it is also temporary. The speaker is asking the reader to consider what they are doing with their time on earth, and whether they are making the most of it.
The second stanza of the poem is a meditation on the inevitability of death. Hardy writes, "What are you doing here, / When the night is nigh, / And the stars in their sphere / Are waiting to die?" This stanza is a reminder that death is a natural part of life. The stars in the sky, which seem eternal, are also subject to the same fate as humans. The speaker is asking the reader to consider their own mortality and to reflect on what they want to accomplish before their time on earth is up.
The final stanza of the poem is a call to action. Hardy writes, "What are you doing here, / With your little span, / While the ages appear / And the cycles plan?" This stanza is a reminder that humans are only a small part of the larger cycle of life. The ages will continue to appear, and the cycles will continue to plan, long after humans are gone. The speaker is asking the reader to consider what they can do to make a difference in the world, and to leave a lasting legacy that will outlive them.
Overall, "Quid Hic Agis?" is a powerful poem that speaks to the universal experience of mortality. It is a reminder that life is fleeting, and that death is inevitable. The poem is a call to action, asking the reader to consider what they are doing with their time on earth, and to reflect on what they want to accomplish before their time is up. It is a timeless meditation on the human condition, and it continues to resonate with readers today.
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