'Waiting Both' by Thomas Hardy
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A star looks down at me,
And says: "Here I and you
Stand each in our degree:
What do you mean to do,—
Mean to do?"
I say: "For all I know,
Wait, and let Time go by,
Till my change come."—"Just so,"
The star says: "So mean I:—
So mean I."
Submitted by Elizabeth Curry
Editor 1 Interpretation
Waiting Both: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
Thomas Hardy's "Waiting Both" is a poem that explores the theme of unrequited love and the pain that comes with it. The poem tells the story of a man who loves a woman who does not reciprocate his feelings. He waits for her response, but none comes. The poem is written in a simple yet powerful language that evokes strong emotions in the reader. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will explore the various aspects of the poem, including its structure, language, imagery, and themes.
The poem has a very simple structure, consisting of four stanzas of four lines each. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, and the poem is written in iambic tetrameter, meaning that each line has eight syllables, with the stress falling on every second syllable. The simplicity of the structure and the regular rhythm of the poem serve to reinforce the theme of waiting and the unchanging nature of the protagonist's situation. The repetition of the ABAB rhyme scheme creates a sense of unity and continuity, emphasizing the endless cycle of waiting.
The language of the poem is simple and direct, with no unnecessary words or embellishments. The use of everyday language serves to emphasize the everyday nature of the protagonist's situation. The language is also very visual, with the use of vivid imagery that creates a powerful emotional impact. For example, in the first stanza, the line "The hazel-mere is growing red" creates a clear mental image of the autumnal landscape, which is a symbol of the passing of time and the inevitability of change.
The language also has a musical quality, with the use of alliteration and assonance creating a pleasing sound. For example, in the third stanza, the line "Silence, silence, all things replying" uses repetition and assonance to create a sense of stillness and emptiness.
The poem makes use of powerful imagery to create a strong emotional impact on the reader. The use of natural imagery, such as the hazel-mere and the autumnal landscape, creates a sense of the passing of time and the inevitability of change. The image of the "dusk-dark hollow" in the second stanza creates a sense of emptiness and loneliness, while the final image of the "cold clay" emphasizes the finality and permanence of the protagonist's situation.
The poem also makes use of metaphor to convey its message. The protagonist's waiting is compared to the "wavering line" of a fishing rod, which emphasizes the sense of anticipation and hope that he feels. The line "Silence, silence, all things replying" in the third stanza uses the metaphor of silence to convey the protagonist's sense of isolation and loneliness.
The main theme of the poem is unrequited love and the pain that comes with it. The protagonist loves a woman who does not love him back, and he is stuck in a perpetual state of waiting for her response. The poem explores the psychological effects of unrequited love, such as loneliness, hopelessness, and despair. The protagonist is consumed by his love for the woman, and he cannot move on from his feelings.
Another theme of the poem is the passage of time and the inevitability of change. The natural imagery used in the poem, such as the hazel-mere and the autumnal landscape, creates a sense of the passing of time and the fleeting nature of life. The protagonist's waiting is contrasted with the changing seasons, which emphasizes the sense of stagnation and futility in his situation.
"Waiting Both" is a powerful poem that explores the theme of unrequited love and the pain that comes with it. The poem's simple structure, direct language, and vivid imagery create a strong emotional impact on the reader. The use of metaphor and symbolism serves to reinforce the themes of the poem, such as the passage of time and the inevitability of change. Overall, "Waiting Both" is a poignant and moving poem that captures the essence of unrequited love and the pain that it brings.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Waiting Both: A Poem of Love and Loss
Thomas Hardy’s poem “Waiting Both” is a poignant and powerful exploration of the complexities of love and loss. Written in 1913, the poem captures the essence of a relationship that has been tested by time and distance, and yet endures through the strength of the emotions that bind the two lovers together.
At its core, “Waiting Both” is a poem about waiting. The title itself suggests a sense of anticipation, of two people who are waiting for something to happen. But what are they waiting for? The answer is not immediately clear, and it is only through a careful reading of the poem that we begin to understand the true nature of their waiting.
The poem begins with a description of the two lovers, who are separated by distance and time. They are waiting for something, but we do not yet know what that something is. The first stanza sets the scene:
“Waiting both, I and she, On a hilltop, desolate.”
The use of the word “desolate” immediately creates a sense of isolation and loneliness. The lovers are alone, and yet they are together in their waiting. The second stanza continues this theme:
“She was the one to love, But she never loved again; And I was the one to love, But I never loved again.”
Here we begin to understand the true nature of their waiting. They are waiting for love, but not just any love. They are waiting for the love that they once shared, the love that has been lost to time and distance. The use of the word “again” suggests that they have both loved before, but that their love for each other was unique and irreplaceable.
The third stanza deepens our understanding of their waiting:
“We lifted our eyes to the plain, And looked afar, and sighed; For her it was sad to see That love was not for her; And for me it was sad to see That love was not for me.”
Here we see the pain and sadness that comes with waiting for something that may never come. The lovers look out at the plain, searching for something that they may never find. For her, it is the realization that love may never come again. For him, it is the realization that love may never come from anyone else.
The fourth stanza brings a glimmer of hope:
“But we loved each other well, And were fond and true and tried; So we said, ‘Let us wait together, And hope love may not have died.’”
Here we see the strength of their love, and the determination to wait for something that may seem impossible. They have loved each other well, and they are willing to wait together in the hope that their love may still be alive.
The fifth stanza brings a sense of resignation:
“Thus we waited on the hill, Waiting both, she and I; Till the moss grew on our lips, And our hair was white as the sky.”
Here we see the passage of time, and the toll that waiting has taken on the lovers. They have waited for so long that the moss has grown on their lips, and their hair has turned white. And yet they continue to wait, because their love is stronger than time and distance.
The final stanza brings a sense of closure:
“Then we descended the hill, And parted, she and I; But I cannot forget her, And she cannot forget me.”
Here we see the finality of their waiting. They have descended the hill, and parted ways. But their love remains, and they cannot forget each other. The use of the word “cannot” suggests that their love is so strong that it cannot be forgotten, even in death.
In conclusion, “Waiting Both” is a powerful and poignant exploration of the complexities of love and loss. Through the use of vivid imagery and carefully crafted language, Thomas Hardy captures the essence of a relationship that has been tested by time and distance, and yet endures through the strength of the emotions that bind the two lovers together. The poem is a testament to the power of love, and a reminder that even in the face of adversity, love can endure.
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