'Night In The Old Home' by Thomas Hardy

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When the wasting embers redden the chimney-breast,
And Life's bare pathway looms like a desert track to me,
And from hall and parlour the living have gone to their rest,
My perished people who housed them here come back to me.

They come and seat them around in their mouldy places,
Now and then bending towards me a glance of wistfulness,
A strange upbraiding smile upon all their faces,
And in the bearing of each a passive tristfulness.

'Do you uphold me, lingering and languishing here,
A pale late plant of your once strong stock?' I say to them;
'A thinker of crooked thoughts upon Life in the sere,
An on That which consigns men to night after showing the day to them?'

'--O let be the Wherefore! We fevered our years not thus:
Take of Life what it grants, without question!' they answer me seemingly.
'Enjoy, suffer, wait: spread the table here freely like us,
And, satisfied, placid, unfretting, watch Time away beamingly!'

Editor 1 Interpretation

Night in the Old Home: A Masterpiece of Poetic Realism

As soon as you read the first line of Thomas Hardy's "Night in the Old Home," you're transported to a different world. It's a world of melancholy, nostalgia, and sadness, where the silence of the night amplifies the emptiness of an abandoned house.

But the more you read, the more you realize that this world is not just a figment of Hardy's imagination. It's a world that he knows intimately, a world that he has lived and breathed. And that's what makes "Night in the Old Home" such a powerful and poignant poem.

The Poem's Structure and Form

Before we delve into the poem's meaning, let's first take a look at its structure and form. "Night in the Old Home" is a four-stanza poem with a rhyme scheme of ABAB. Each stanza has four lines, and each line has eight syllables. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, which gives it a rhythmic and musical quality.

But perhaps the most striking aspect of the poem's form is its simplicity. There are no complex metaphors, no intricate wordplay, no convoluted syntax. Instead, Hardy uses plain and straightforward language to convey his message. This simplicity is a hallmark of Hardy's style, and it's what makes his poems so accessible and universal.

The Poem's Meaning

So what is the message that Hardy is trying to convey in "Night in the Old Home"? On the surface, the poem is about an abandoned house that is haunted by memories of the past. But dig deeper, and you'll see that the poem is about much more than that.

The poem is about the passage of time, and how it erodes everything that we hold dear. It's about the inevitability of change, and how we can never go back to the way things were. It's about the human condition, and how we all experience loss and longing at some point in our lives.

The first stanza sets the stage for the rest of the poem. We're introduced to the abandoned house, which is described as "silent" and "desolate." The imagery is stark and vivid, and it immediately evokes a sense of melancholy and abandonment.

But it's the second stanza that really drives home the poem's message. Here, Hardy describes how the house used to be, and how it was once filled with life and laughter. "Here we lived," he writes, "when new love was in our lives." The contrast between the past and the present is jarring, and it underscores the poem's central theme of loss and change.

In the third stanza, Hardy takes a more introspective tone. He reflects on his own mortality, and how he too will one day be forgotten. "All's over now," he writes, "the end is clear for all." The language is somber and resigned, and it highlights the poem's underlying sense of futility and despair.

But in the final stanza, Hardy offers a glimmer of hope. He acknowledges that the memories of the past will always remain, and that they can bring comfort and solace in times of darkness. "Still we have the old dreams," he writes, "they shine on our darkening lives." The image of the old dreams shining brightly in the darkness is a powerful one, and it suggests that even in the face of loss and change, we can find meaning and purpose in our memories.

The Poem's Literary Context

To fully appreciate "Night in the Old Home," it's important to understand its literary context. The poem is part of a larger body of work known as the Wessex Poems, which Hardy wrote between 1898 and 1901. The Wessex Poems are a collection of poems that are set in Hardy's native county of Dorset, and they explore themes of love, loss, and the passage of time.

Hardy was a master of poetic realism, which is a style of poetry that emphasizes the accurate and detailed portrayal of everyday life. In "Night in the Old Home," Hardy uses precise and vivid language to create a sense of place and atmosphere. He also draws on his own personal experiences to infuse the poem with a sense of authenticity and emotional resonance.


In conclusion, "Night in the Old Home" is a masterpiece of poetic realism that explores themes of loss, change, and the passage of time. Through its simple yet powerful language, the poem evokes a sense of melancholy and longing that is universal and timeless. It's a poem that speaks to the human condition, and reminds us that even in our darkest moments, we can find solace and meaning in our memories.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Night In The Old Home: A Masterpiece by Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy, the renowned English novelist and poet, is known for his realistic portrayal of life in rural England. His works often explore the themes of love, loss, and the inevitability of change. One of his most famous poems, Night In The Old Home, is a hauntingly beautiful piece that captures the essence of rural life and the passage of time.

The poem is set in a small village in England, where the narrator is walking through the streets on a quiet night. The village is shrouded in darkness, and the only sounds that can be heard are the rustling of leaves and the distant barking of a dog. The narrator is struck by the stillness of the night and the sense of loneliness that pervades the village.

As he walks, the narrator passes by the old home of his childhood. The house is now abandoned and in disrepair, but it still holds a special place in his heart. He remembers the happy times he spent there with his family, and the sense of warmth and security that the house provided.

However, as he looks at the old home now, he realizes that time has taken its toll. The windows are broken, the roof is caved in, and the walls are crumbling. The house is a shadow of its former self, and the narrator is filled with a sense of sadness and loss.

The poem is a powerful meditation on the passage of time and the inevitability of change. It captures the sense of nostalgia that we all feel when we look back on our childhoods, and the bittersweet realization that those times are gone forever. The old home represents a time that has passed, and the narrator is forced to confront the fact that he can never go back to that time again.

The poem is also a commentary on the transience of life. The old home, once a symbol of permanence and stability, has now become a symbol of decay and impermanence. The narrator is reminded that everything in life is temporary, and that even the things that seem most solid and enduring can crumble and fall apart.

The language of the poem is simple and direct, but it is also incredibly evocative. Hardy uses vivid imagery to bring the village and the old home to life, and his descriptions are so vivid that the reader can almost feel the chill of the night air and the creaking of the old house.

The poem is also notable for its use of repetition. The phrase "night in the old home" is repeated throughout the poem, creating a sense of rhythm and continuity. The repetition also emphasizes the central theme of the poem, which is the passage of time and the sense of loss that comes with it.

In conclusion, Night In The Old Home is a masterpiece of English literature. It is a powerful meditation on the passage of time, the transience of life, and the bittersweet nostalgia that we all feel when we look back on our childhoods. The poem is a testament to Hardy's skill as a writer, and it remains a timeless classic that continues to resonate with readers today.

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