'At The Wicket-Gate' by Thomas Hardy
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There floated the sounds of church-chiming,
But no one was nigh,
Till there came, as a break in the loneness,
Her father, she, I.
And we slowly moved on to the wicket,
And downlooking stood,
Till anon people passed, and amid them
We parted for good.
Greater, wiser, may part there than we three
Who parted there then,
But never will Fates colder-featured
Hold sway there again.
Of the churchgoers through the still meadows
No single one knew
What a play was played under their eyes there
As thence we withdrew.
Editor 1 Interpretation
At The Wicket-Gate: A Literary Criticism
Are you a fan of poetry? Do you enjoy the works of Thomas Hardy? If you answered yes to both questions, then you're in for a treat. At The Wicket-Gate is a classic poem that showcases Hardy's skill in crafting vivid imagery and poignant emotions.
At The Wicket-Gate is a short poem consisting of three stanzas with four lines each. It was published in 1898 as part of Hardy's collection of poems entitled Wessex Poems. The poem's title refers to a physical gate in a pasture where one can watch the world go by. However, the wicket-gate in the poem is a metaphor for the transition between life and death.
The poem's first stanza sets the scene:
"Watchman, what of the night?"
"Storms on the mountains and darkness in vale,
Clouds on the midnight, the homesteads a-light,
Wonder ye foes at our lifting the veil?"
The first line is a direct quote from the Bible, specifically Isaiah 21:11. It sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as the speaker is asking about the state of the world. The watchman's response indicates that the night is a tumultuous one, with storms in the mountains and darkness in the valleys. However, the homesteads are lit up, suggesting that there is still life and activity in the world despite the darkness.
The second stanza continues the metaphor of the wicket-gate:
"Watchman, what of the night?"
"Over the hills comes a stillness and chill,
The tired earth sends a sigh up to the skies,
The weary wind whispers, 'Peace, peace be still.'"
The speaker asks the same question again, and the watchman's answer indicates that the night is now calm and peaceful. The stillness and chill suggest that the world is preparing for a transition, perhaps from life to death. The tired earth's sigh and the weary wind's whisper both suggest a weariness and resignation, as if the world is ready to let go.
The final stanza brings the metaphor to its conclusion:
"Watchman, what of the night?"
"Tell me the tale of its shadows and fears,
And I'll take it up in a cry of my own,
And echo it down through the valley of tears."
The speaker asks the same question once more, but this time they request a story. The watchman's response suggests that the night was full of shadows and fears. However, the speaker is not deterred by this. They vow to take up the tale and echo it down through the valley of tears, suggesting that they will bear witness to the world's pain and suffering.
At The Wicket-Gate is a beautifully crafted poem that uses vivid imagery and metaphor to explore the themes of life, death, and perseverance. The poem's use of the wicket-gate as a metaphor for the transition between life and death is particularly effective. It allows the poem to explore the idea of life's impermanence without becoming overly morbid or maudlin.
The watchman's responses to the speaker's questions also add depth to the poem. The watchman is a figure of authority, in a sense, as they are the one who observes and reports on the state of the world. However, their responses are not definitive or absolute. They acknowledge the darkness and the calmness of the night, but they do not offer any explanation or interpretation beyond that. This allows the speaker to take up the mantle and interpret the night's events for themselves.
The poem's final stanza is particularly powerful. The speaker's vow to take up the tale and echo it down through the valley of tears suggests a determination to bear witness to the world's pain and suffering. It is a call to action, a reminder that we must not turn a blind eye to the darkness in the world. Instead, we must acknowledge it and strive to make the world a better place.
In conclusion, At The Wicket-Gate is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that explores the themes of life, death, and perseverance. Its use of vivid imagery and metaphor allows it to delve into these themes without becoming overly morbid or maudlin. The watchman's responses to the speaker's questions add depth to the poem, and the final stanza is particularly powerful. If you're a fan of poetry or Thomas Hardy, then this poem is definitely worth a read.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry At The Wicket-Gate: A Masterpiece of Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, one of the most celebrated English novelists and poets of the Victorian era, is known for his realistic portrayal of rural life and the human condition. His works are characterized by a deep understanding of human emotions and a keen observation of nature. Among his many literary masterpieces, Poetry At The Wicket-Gate stands out as a remarkable poem that captures the essence of life and death.
The poem is set in a rural landscape, where the narrator is standing at a wicket-gate, watching the world go by. The scene is peaceful and serene, with the sound of birds chirping and the gentle breeze blowing. However, the tranquility is soon interrupted by the arrival of a funeral procession. The narrator watches as the mourners pass by, and he is struck by the contrast between life and death.
The poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which explores a different aspect of life and death. In the first stanza, the narrator describes the beauty of the natural world. He observes the birds singing and the flowers blooming, and he marvels at the wonder of creation. However, he is also aware of the transience of life, and he notes that the flowers will wither and the birds will eventually die.
In the second stanza, the narrator reflects on the inevitability of death. He watches as the funeral procession passes by, and he is struck by the solemnity of the occasion. He notes that death is a natural part of life, and that all living things must eventually pass away. However, he also acknowledges the sadness and grief that accompany death, and he wonders what lies beyond the veil of mortality.
In the final stanza, the narrator turns his attention to the power of poetry. He notes that poetry has the ability to transcend time and space, and that it can capture the essence of life and death. He reflects on the power of words to console and inspire, and he notes that poetry can provide solace in times of sorrow.
Overall, Poetry At The Wicket-Gate is a powerful and moving poem that explores the themes of life and death. Through his vivid descriptions of the natural world and his reflections on the inevitability of mortality, Hardy captures the essence of the human condition. The poem is a testament to the power of poetry to console and inspire, and it stands as a timeless masterpiece of English literature.
One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its use of imagery. Hardy's descriptions of the natural world are vivid and evocative, and they serve to create a sense of peace and tranquility. The birds singing and the flowers blooming are symbols of life and vitality, and they stand in stark contrast to the solemnity of the funeral procession. The use of imagery serves to highlight the transience of life, and it underscores the inevitability of death.
Another notable aspect of the poem is its use of language. Hardy's prose is simple and direct, yet it is also poetic and lyrical. His use of repetition and alliteration serves to create a sense of rhythm and musicality, and it adds to the overall beauty of the poem. The language is also deeply reflective, and it serves to convey the narrator's thoughts and emotions in a powerful and moving way.
Finally, the poem is notable for its exploration of the power of poetry. Hardy notes that poetry has the ability to transcend time and space, and that it can capture the essence of life and death. He reflects on the power of words to console and inspire, and he notes that poetry can provide solace in times of sorrow. This theme is particularly relevant in today's world, where poetry and literature continue to serve as a source of comfort and inspiration for people around the globe.
In conclusion, Poetry At The Wicket-Gate is a masterpiece of English literature that explores the themes of life and death in a powerful and moving way. Through its use of vivid imagery, lyrical language, and reflective prose, the poem captures the essence of the human condition and serves as a testament to the power of poetry to console and inspire. As we continue to grapple with the challenges of life and death, Hardy's timeless masterpiece serves as a reminder of the enduring power of literature to provide solace and inspiration in times of sorrow.
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