'Domicilium' by Thomas Hardy

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It faces west, and round the back and sides
High beeches, bending, hang a veil of boughs,
And sweep against the roof. Wild honeysucks
Climb 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 box
Are there in plenty, and such hardy flowers
As flourish best untrained. Adjoining these
Are herbs and esculents; and farther still
A field; then cottages with trees, and last
The distant hills and sky.

Behind, the scene is wilder. Heath and furze
Are everything that seems to grow and thrive
Upon the uneven ground. A stunted thorn
Stands here and there, indeed; and from a pit
An oak uprises, Springing from a seed
Dropped by some bird a hundred years ago.

In days bygone--
Long gone--my father's mother, who is now
Blest with the blest, would take me out to walk.
At such a time I once inquired of her
How looked the spot when first she settled here.
The answer I remember. 'Fifty years
Have passed since then, my child, and change has marked
The face of all things. Yonder garden-plots
And orchards were uncultivated slopes
O'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 firs
And beeches were not planted. Snakes and efts
Swarmed in the summer days, and nightly bats
Would fly about our bedrooms. Heathcroppers
Lived on the hills, and were our only friends;
So wild it was when we first settled here.'

Editor 1 Interpretation

Exciting Literary Criticism of Thomas Hardy's Domicilium

Thomas Hardy's Domicilium is a powerful and evocative poem that captures the essence of the English countryside in all its glory. This masterpiece of Victorian poetry is a perfect example of Hardy's skill as a writer, and it remains one of his most enduring works to this day. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the themes and motifs of Domicilium and discuss its significance in the context of Hardy's oeuvre.

Setting the Scene

First published in 1897, Domicilium is a deeply personal poem that reflects on Hardy's memories of his childhood home, Max Gate in Dorchester, England. The poem is divided into four sections, each of which explores a different aspect of the rural landscape that surrounds Max Gate. In the first section, Hardy describes the beauty of the countryside, with its rolling hills and fields of wheat. In the second section, he focuses on the animals that inhabit the land, including cows and sheep. The third section is devoted to the flora of the region, while the final section reflects on the passage of time and the inevitability of death.

The Theme of Nostalgia

At its heart, Domicilium is a poem about nostalgia. Hardy's reminiscences of his childhood home are suffused with a sense of longing and loss, as he reflects on the passing of time and the impermanence of all things. This theme is particularly evident in the final section of the poem, where Hardy contemplates the futility of human striving in the face of mortality:

"And could I ever sigh again
With such a will as then,
The pillow would be wet with rain.
But let that pass. Time goes, and what
May be the next scene of the show
I know not, nor greatly care to know.
So long as I may passively lie
And gaze upon the cloudless sky,
The close-cropped grass around my side
Seems, at the least, a softer bed
Than downy pillows to my head."

This passage is a testament to Hardy's skill as a poet, as he uses language to convey the emotional weight of his subject matter. The repetition of the word "pass" in the line "But let that pass" emphasizes the transience of life, while the image of the "cloudless sky" and "close-cropped grass" creates a sense of peace and acceptance.

The Symbolism of Nature

Another prominent theme in Domicilium is the symbolism of nature. Hardy uses the natural world as a metaphor for the human condition, exploring the cycles of life and death through the changing seasons and the growth and decay of plants and animals. This is particularly evident in the second section of the poem, where Hardy describes the "creatures great and small" that inhabit the countryside:

"The cows, crowding the gateway, stare
With broad and patient eyes,
And a coarse voice in the lane hard by
Chants drowsily as it dies:
The voice of the carter, that ever attends
The slow-paced team that he drives,
Intoned to the clink of the coupling-chains
And the fall of the horses' strides."

Here, Hardy uses the image of the cows and the carter to symbolize the passage of time and the inevitability of death. The cows "stare with broad and patient eyes" as if they are waiting for their own inevitable fate, while the carter's "coarse voice" echoes the relentless march of time.

The Significance of Place

Finally, Domicilium is a poem that is deeply rooted in its sense of place. Hardy's memories of his childhood home are inseparable from the landscape that surrounds it, and the poem is suffused with a sense of the unique character of the English countryside. This is evident in the first section of the poem, where Hardy describes the beauty of the landscape:

"The wheat sways heavy, the sickle strikes;
The crisp earth rustles beneath;
And away in the distance the windmill sails
With a calm and stately sheath."

Here, Hardy creates a vivid picture of the countryside, using language to capture the sights, sounds, and textures of the landscape. The image of the "sickle strikes" emphasizes the hard work that is required to cultivate the land, while the "calm and stately" windmill provides a sense of continuity and tradition.


In conclusion, Domicilium is a masterpiece of Victorian poetry that continues to resonate with readers today. Through its themes of nostalgia, the symbolism of nature, and the significance of place, Hardy creates a powerful and evocative portrait of the English countryside that is both timeless and universal. Whether you are a fan of Victorian poetry or simply appreciate great writing, Domicilium is a must-read.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Domicilium: A Masterpiece of Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy, the renowned English novelist, poet, and dramatist, is known for his exceptional literary works that explore the complexities of human nature and the harsh realities of life. Among his many masterpieces, Domicilium stands out as a remarkable poem that captures the essence of human existence and the inevitability of death. This 2000-word analysis will delve into the themes, structure, and literary devices used in Domicilium, providing a comprehensive understanding of this classic poem.

The poem Domicilium was written by Thomas Hardy in 1897 and was published in his collection of poems, Wessex Poems and Other Verses. The title of the poem, Domicilium, is a Latin word that means "home" or "dwelling place." The poem is divided into three stanzas, each with six lines, and follows a consistent rhyme scheme of ABABCC. The poem's structure is simple yet effective, with each stanza building upon the previous one to create a powerful and thought-provoking message.

The first stanza of Domicilium sets the tone for the rest of the poem, introducing the theme of mortality and the inevitability of death. The opening line, "A touch, and I yield," suggests the fragility of life and how easily it can be taken away. The speaker then goes on to describe the beauty of nature, with the "bloom of the sloe" and the "blossom of the thorn." However, this beauty is fleeting, as the speaker notes that "the petals are shed" and "the bloom is blown away." This imagery of nature's transience serves as a metaphor for human life, emphasizing the idea that everything is temporary and that death is an inevitable part of the cycle of life.

The second stanza of Domicilium continues to explore the theme of mortality, but with a more personal and introspective tone. The speaker reflects on their own life, describing it as a "brief and trivial span" that is "fading fast." The use of the word "trivial" suggests that the speaker feels that their life has not been particularly significant or meaningful. This feeling is compounded by the realization that "the end is nigh," and that death is approaching. The speaker's tone is resigned and accepting, suggesting that they have come to terms with their mortality and are ready to face the inevitable.

The final stanza of Domicilium brings the poem to a powerful and poignant conclusion. The speaker describes their final moments, noting that they will "lie down where all the ladders start" and that "the end is the beginning." This imagery of lying down where all the ladders start suggests that death is not an end but a beginning, and that the speaker is ready to embark on a new journey. The final line of the poem, "And nevermore be sad," is a powerful statement that suggests that death is not something to be feared or mourned but embraced as a natural part of life.

One of the most striking aspects of Domicilium is the use of imagery and metaphor to convey the poem's themes. The imagery of nature's transience, with the "bloom of the sloe" and the "blossom of the thorn," serves as a powerful metaphor for human life and the inevitability of death. The use of the word "trivial" to describe the speaker's life is another effective use of metaphor, emphasizing the fleeting nature of human existence and the need to make the most of the time we have.

Another notable aspect of Domicilium is the use of repetition and rhyme to create a sense of rhythm and flow. The consistent rhyme scheme of ABABCC creates a musical quality to the poem, drawing the reader in and emphasizing the poem's themes. The repetition of the phrase "the end is nigh" in the second stanza creates a sense of inevitability and finality, while the repetition of the phrase "lie down" in the final stanza emphasizes the idea of death as a peaceful and natural process.

In conclusion, Domicilium is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores the themes of mortality and the inevitability of death. Through its use of imagery, metaphor, and repetition, the poem conveys a powerful message about the transience of life and the need to embrace death as a natural part of the cycle of life. Thomas Hardy's masterful use of language and structure creates a poem that is both beautiful and haunting, leaving a lasting impression on the reader.

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