'Then And Now' by Thomas Hardy
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When battles were fought
With a chivalrous sense of should and ought,
In spirit men said,
"End we quick or dead,
Honour is some reward!
Let us fight fair -- for our own best or worst;
So, Gentlemen of the Guard,
In the open they stood,
Man to man in his knightlihood:
They would not deign
To profit by a stain
On the honourable rules,
Knowing that practise perfidy no man durst
Who in the heroic schools
But now, behold, what
Is war with those where honour is not!
Its dead innocents;
Herod howls: "Sly slaughter
Rules now! Let us, by modes once called accurst,
Overhead, under water,
Editor 1 Interpretation
Then And Now by Thomas Hardy: A Critique
Have you ever read a poem that made you feel like you were transported to a different time and place? That's what Thomas Hardy's "Then and Now" does. It's a beautiful and melancholic poem that takes the reader on a journey through the changing seasons of life.
The Poem's Structure
The poem is divided into two stanzas, each with eight lines. This symmetry is fitting for a poem that is all about the passing of time. The rhyme scheme is ABABCDCD, with the first and third lines of each stanza rhyming. The meter is iambic tetrameter, which gives the poem a gentle, rhythmic feel.
The poem is full of vivid imagery, which is typical of Hardy's work. He paints pictures with his words, and the reader can almost smell the damp earth and feel the chill in the air.
The Theme of Time
The theme of time is central to "Then and Now." The title itself suggests a contrast between the past and the present. The first stanza describes the beauty of autumn, with its "mellow fruitfulness" and "maturing sun." But the second stanza reveals that the speaker is no longer able to enjoy these things. He is "old and grey" and "the charm has flown."
This theme of the passing of time is a common one in literature. It's something we can all relate to, as we watch our own lives unfold. But Hardy takes it a step further, showing how the beauty of the natural world can be both a reminder of what we have lost and a source of comfort in our old age.
The Importance of Memory
Memory is another important theme in the poem. The speaker recalls a time when he was young and full of life, when he could "plunge" into the stream and feel the "cool shock" of the water. But now, he can only "gaze" at the water and remember what it felt like.
The poem suggests that memories are a way of holding onto the past, even as time marches on. The speaker may no longer be able to experience the beauty of autumn or the thrill of jumping into a stream, but he can still remember what it felt like. And in a way, those memories keep him connected to his younger self.
The Role of Nature
Nature plays a big role in "Then and Now." The speaker describes the changing seasons in great detail, from the "maturing sun" of autumn to the "ice-bound stream" of winter. But he also uses nature as a metaphor for the passing of time. The "maturing sun" suggests the passage from youth to adulthood, while the "chill of winter" represents old age and death.
But nature also offers the speaker comfort in his old age. He may no longer be able to enjoy the beauty of autumn or the thrill of jumping into a stream, but he can still "gaze" at the water and "loiter" in the fields. Nature is a constant, a reminder that even as our lives change, the world around us remains the same.
"Then and Now" is a beautiful and poignant poem about the passing of time. It's a reminder that life is short, and we should cherish every moment while we can. But it's also a reminder that memories and nature can offer comfort in our old age. We may no longer be able to experience the beauty of autumn or the thrill of jumping into a stream, but we can still remember what it felt like, and we can still find joy in the world around us.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Then And Now: A Timeless Poem by Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, one of the most celebrated poets of the Victorian era, was known for his poignant and evocative poetry that captured the essence of human emotions and experiences. His poem "Then And Now" is a timeless masterpiece that explores the theme of time and its impact on human life. In this article, we will delve into the poem's meaning, structure, and literary devices, and analyze how it reflects Hardy's view of life and the human condition.
The poem "Then And Now" is a sonnet, a fourteen-line poem with a strict rhyme scheme and meter. It is divided into two quatrains (four-line stanzas) and a sestet (six-line stanza), with a rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. The poem's structure is significant as it reflects the theme of time and its impact on human life. The first quatrain describes the speaker's past, while the second quatrain describes the present. The sestet brings the two time periods together and reflects on the speaker's journey through life.
The poem's opening lines, "When battles were fought / With a chivalrous sense of should and ought," set the tone for the poem and establish the speaker's nostalgic tone. The speaker is reminiscing about a time when honor and duty were valued above all else, and people fought for what they believed was right. The use of the word "chivalrous" evokes images of knights and medieval times, emphasizing the speaker's longing for a simpler and more honorable past.
In the second quatrain, the speaker contrasts the past with the present, stating, "Now all is changed, / Changed utterly: a terrible estrangement." The use of the word "terrible" emphasizes the speaker's negative view of the present and suggests that the changes that have occurred are not for the better. The word "estrangement" suggests a sense of alienation and disconnection, highlighting the speaker's sense of loss and disorientation in the modern world.
The sestet brings the two time periods together and reflects on the speaker's journey through life. The lines "Yet, as we muse, / Brooding on days untried, / There are depths in the present that we cannot espy, / And vistas yet to learn, of which we have no clues," suggest that despite the speaker's nostalgia for the past, there is still hope for the future. The use of the word "muse" suggests a contemplative and reflective tone, and the phrase "days untried" suggests that there are still opportunities for growth and discovery.
The poem's final lines, "So onward, forward! / God guide us all through the world's uproar," suggest that the speaker is ready to move forward and face the challenges of the present and future. The use of the word "God" suggests a sense of faith and hope, and the phrase "world's uproar" suggests that the speaker recognizes the chaos and uncertainty of the modern world but is determined to face it with courage and resilience.
The poem's structure and language are significant in conveying the poem's meaning and reflecting Hardy's view of life and the human condition. The use of the sonnet form, with its strict rhyme scheme and meter, reflects the theme of time and its impact on human life. The contrast between the past and present highlights the speaker's sense of loss and disorientation in the modern world, while the sestet suggests that there is still hope for the future.
The poem's language is also significant in conveying its meaning. The use of words such as "chivalrous," "terrible," and "estrangement" evoke strong emotions and emphasize the speaker's sense of nostalgia and loss. The use of the word "muse" suggests a contemplative and reflective tone, while the phrase "God guide us all" suggests a sense of faith and hope.
In conclusion, "Then And Now" is a timeless poem that explores the theme of time and its impact on human life. The poem's structure, language, and literary devices are significant in conveying its meaning and reflecting Hardy's view of life and the human condition. The poem's message is one of hope and resilience, suggesting that despite the chaos and uncertainty of the modern world, there is still hope for the future.
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