'Midnight On The Great Western' by Thomas Hardy
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In the third-class seat sat the journeying boy,
And the roof-lamp's oily flame
Played down on his listless form and face,
Bewrapt past knowing to what he was going,
Or whence he came.
In the band of his hat the journeying boy
Had a ticket stuck; and a string
Around his neck bore the key of his box,
That twinkled gleams of the lamp's sad beams
Like a living thing.
What past can be yours, O journeying boy
Towards a world uknown,
Who calmly, as if incurious quite
On all at stake, can undertake
This plunge alone?
Knows your soul a sphere, O journeying boy,
Our rude realms far above,
Whence with spacious vision you mark and mete
This region of sin that you find you in,
But are not of?
Editor 1 Interpretation
Midnight On The Great Western by Thomas Hardy: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
As I delve into the world of the Victorian era, I stumble upon a poem that leaves me with a sense of awe and wonder. Midnight On The Great Western, written by Thomas Hardy, is a poem that captures the essence of a train journey in the dead of the night. The poem is a perfect example of Hardy's ability to create vivid images and convey his emotions through his writing.
Thomas Hardy was an English novelist and poet who is considered one of the most important writers of the late Victorian era. Born in 1840 in Dorset, England, Hardy grew up in a rural setting and was deeply influenced by his surroundings. His works often revolve around the themes of nature, love, and the human condition.
Midnight On The Great Western was written in 1860 when Hardy was just twenty years old. The poem was his first published work and is a classic example of his early writing. The poem was published in The Germ, which was a literary magazine that focused on the Pre-Raphaelite movement.
The poem is a journey through the night on a train called the Great Western. The train is traveling through the English countryside, and the speaker of the poem is looking out of the window as he travels. The poem is written in quatrains, with each stanza containing four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, which gives the poem a sense of structure and rhythm.
The opening lines of the poem set the tone for the rest of the work. The speaker describes the train as it moves through the night, "In the third-class seat sat the journeying boy, / And the roof-lamp's oily flame / Played down on his listless form and face, / Bewrapt past knowing to what he did enfold". The words, "journeying boy" create an image of a young, innocent traveler who is being carried away by the train. The boy is described as "listless" and "bewrapt past knowing", suggesting that he is lost in thought and not fully present in the moment.
As the poem progresses, the speaker describes the scene outside the train window. He describes the "blackened valley" and the "rippling fields of corn". The imagery in the poem is vivid and creates a sense of movement and energy. The words, "Dimly on either hand / Wash, and, anon, uprear / Gardens, smoking plowland, / Orchards in tier on tier", create an image of the passing countryside.
As the train moves through the night, the speaker becomes more introspective. He describes his own thoughts and feelings, "And flood afresh how, on and on, / All night, through sill and dark / Over dead-level miles of stream, / We beat into the West". The words, "beat into the West", suggest a sense of determination and forward motion.
The poem ends with the speaker's thoughts turning to the future. He wonders what lies ahead for him, "So must I tug and travel on / And, since, as morning shakes / Its ruddy beacon-blaze above / The shivering passenger wakes, / Thoughts I've constrained in me awake, / And some things learned remain, / And some things can't be tried again, / And some things... fade and wane". The final lines of the poem are a reflection on the fleeting nature of life and the passing of time. The words, "fade and wane", suggest that nothing is permanent and that everything eventually comes to an end.
Midnight On The Great Western is a poem that captures the essence of a train journey. The train is a symbol of movement and change, and the passing countryside represents the passing of time. The poem is a reflection on the fleeting nature of life and the passing of time.
The image of the "journeying boy" is a symbol of innocence and youth. The boy is lost in his thoughts and is not fully present in the moment. This can be seen as a reflection on the human condition, where people are often lost in their thoughts and not fully present in the moment.
The passing countryside is a symbol of the passing of time. The "rippling fields of corn" and the "smoking plowland" represent the changing seasons and the passing of time. The train is moving forward, and the passing countryside is a reminder that time is always moving forward.
The final lines of the poem are a reflection on the fleeting nature of life. The words, "And some things... fade and wane", suggest that nothing is permanent and that everything eventually comes to an end. The poem is a reminder to live in the moment and to appreciate the beauty of life, as it is fleeting.
Midnight On The Great Western is a beautiful poem that captures the essence of a train journey. The poem is a reflection on the fleeting nature of life and the passing of time. The imagery in the poem is vivid and creates a sense of movement and energy. The poem is a reminder to live in the moment and to appreciate the beauty of life, as it is fleeting. Thomas Hardy's ability to create vivid images and convey his emotions through his writing is on full display in this classic work.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Midnight On The Great Western: A Masterpiece by Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, one of the greatest poets of the Victorian era, is known for his profound and melancholic works that explore the complexities of human emotions and relationships. His poem "Midnight On The Great Western" is a masterpiece that captures the essence of the industrial revolution and the impact it had on society. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language used in the poem to understand its significance and relevance even today.
The poem is set on a train journey from Paddington to Penzance, and the speaker is a passenger on the Great Western Railway. The train is depicted as a symbol of progress and modernity, but also as a source of anxiety and fear. The opening lines of the poem set the tone for the rest of the work:
"In the third-class seat sat the journeying boy,
And the roof-lamp's oily flame
Played down on his listless form and face,
Bewrapt past knowing to what he was going,
Or whence he came."
The boy is a representative of the working-class, who were the primary users of the railway system. The "roof-lamp's oily flame" is a metaphor for the harsh and artificial light that illuminates the train compartment, creating a sense of claustrophobia and unease. The boy's "listless form and face" suggest a sense of detachment and disorientation, as if he is lost in the vastness of the industrial landscape.
The poem then shifts its focus to the landscape outside the train, which is described in vivid and evocative language:
"And ever overhead,
Borne like his train,
The ceaseless rain
Streams on the roof and beats his brain."
The rain is a recurring motif in the poem, representing the relentless and oppressive nature of the industrial environment. The rain is also a metaphor for the tears shed by the working-class, who were exploited and marginalized by the capitalist system. The train is described as being "borne" by the rain, suggesting that it is at the mercy of the natural forces that surround it.
The poem then introduces another character, a young woman who is also a passenger on the train. The woman is described in sensual and erotic language, which contrasts with the bleakness of the industrial landscape:
"And he saw
Her whom he long had worshipped secretly,
And she was travelling too."
The woman represents a source of hope and beauty in an otherwise bleak and oppressive world. The fact that the boy has "long worshipped" her suggests that she is an unattainable ideal, a symbol of the unfulfilled desires of the working-class.
The poem then takes a dark turn, as the train passes through a tunnel:
"And the tunnel's mouth
Opened, and he heard the rush
Of darkness, and the sickly gaslight flame
Spattered with wet upon the straining blackness."
The tunnel is a metaphor for the unknown and the uncertain, a place where the boy's fears and anxieties are amplified. The "sickly gaslight flame" is a symbol of the artificial and oppressive nature of the industrial environment, which is contrasted with the "straining blackness" of the natural world.
The poem then returns to the landscape outside the train, which is described in even more vivid and evocative language:
"And the dim cliffs
And the wild, struggling, foam-lashed coves
Seemed from the carriage window
Phantoms of solitude."
The cliffs and coves represent the natural world, which is in stark contrast to the industrial landscape. The fact that they are described as "phantoms of solitude" suggests that they are a source of comfort and refuge for the boy, who is overwhelmed by the harshness of the industrial environment.
The poem then ends with a powerful and poignant image:
"And past them all
Flashed by the boy's soul
The gladness of his eyes
On the nearer vision of her."
The image of the boy's soul "flashing past" the landscape suggests a sense of liberation and transcendence, as if he is able to escape the constraints of the industrial world and connect with something deeper and more meaningful. The fact that he is focused on the woman suggests that she represents a source of hope and redemption, a way out of the bleakness and despair of the working-class existence.
In conclusion, "Midnight On The Great Western" is a masterpiece that captures the essence of the industrial revolution and its impact on society. The poem explores themes of alienation, oppression, and the search for meaning in a world that is increasingly mechanized and dehumanized. The imagery and language used in the poem are powerful and evocative, creating a sense of unease and disorientation that is both unsettling and profound. Even today, the poem remains relevant and poignant, reminding us of the importance of connecting with the natural world and finding meaning in our lives.
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