'The To-Be-Forgotten' by Thomas Hardy
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I heard a small sad sound,
And stood awhile among the tombs around:
"Wherefore, old friends," said I, "are you distrest,
Now, screened from life's unrest?"
--"O not at being here;
But that our future second death is near;
When, with the living, memory of us numbs,
And blank oblivion comes!
"These, our sped ancestry,
Lie here embraced by deeper death than we;
Nor shape nor thought of theirs can you descry
With keenest backward eye.
"They count as quite forgot;
They are as men who have existed not;
Theirs is a loss past loss of fitful breath;
It is the second death.
"We here, as yet, each day
Are blest with dear recall; as yet, can say
We hold in some soul loved continuance
Of shape and voice and glance.
"But what has been will be --
First memory, then oblivion's swallowing sea;
Like men foregone, shall we merge into those
Whose story no one knows.
"For which of us could hope
To show in life that world-awakening scope
Granted the few whose memory none lets die,
But all men magnify?
"We were but Fortune's sport;
Things true, things lovely, things of good report
We neither shunned nor sought ... We see our bourne,
And seeing it we mourn."
Editor 1 Interpretation
The To-Be-Forgotten by Thomas Hardy: A Timeless Memento
The To-Be-Forgotten by Thomas Hardy is a timeless poem that explores the idea of immortality and the fleeting nature of human life. It is a poem that speaks to us on multiple levels, and its themes and symbols are open to interpretation.
In this literary criticism, we will explore the various aspects of this poem and try to uncover its hidden meanings. We will look at the themes, symbols, and poetic devices that Hardy employs to create a lasting impression on his readers.
The central theme of The To-Be-Forgotten is the idea of impermanence. Hardy reminds us that everything in life is fleeting, and that one day we will all be forgotten. This theme is evident from the very beginning of the poem, where the speaker says:
I should not deem that Nature had spent Such uttermost bounty solely for me
The speaker acknowledges that the beauty and splendor of nature is not meant for him alone. This is a reminder that we are all mere mortals, and that the world will continue to exist long after we are gone.
Another theme that is explored in this poem is the idea of memory. The speaker talks about the things that he wants to be remembered for, and the things that he would rather forget. This is a common human experience, and Hardy touches upon it in a poignant way.
Hardy employs several symbols in The To-Be-Forgotten to convey his message. One of the most important symbols in the poem is the idea of the "unreturning spring." This symbolizes the fleeting nature of life, and the fact that we can never go back to the way things were.
The speaker describes the beauty of the spring, but also acknowledges that it will never come back:
There was never a spring But it buried its dead.
This is a powerful symbol that reminds us that everything in life is temporary, and that we should cherish the moments we have while we still can.
Another important symbol in the poem is the idea of the "silent land." This symbolizes death and the afterlife. The speaker talks about the things that he wants to be remembered for, but also acknowledges that one day he will be forgotten:
And all was done for the asking, But the first lessened pulse of the heart, And the May-breeze, kissing and playing, Blew life back into the oak, And the startled starlings took wing.
This is a powerful symbol that reminds us that death is inevitable, and that we should make the most of the time we have while we are alive.
Hardy employs several poetic devices in The To-Be-Forgotten to create a lasting impression on his readers. One of the most important of these devices is the use of imagery. The speaker describes the beauty of the spring, the sound of the river, and the light of the moon in a way that is vivid and memorable.
Another important poetic device in the poem is the use of repetition. Hardy repeats the phrase "to be forgotten" several times throughout the poem. This repetition creates a sense of urgency, and underscores the central theme of the poem.
Finally, Hardy employs the use of metaphor to great effect in The To-Be-Forgotten. The speaker describes the oak tree as a "gyratory wheel" that is spinning endlessly. This metaphor is a powerful one, and reminds us that life is constantly moving forward, whether we want it to or not.
In conclusion, The To-Be-Forgotten by Thomas Hardy is a powerful poem that explores the themes of impermanence, memory, and death. Hardy employs several symbols and poetic devices to create a lasting impression on his readers, and his message is one that is relevant for all time.
As we read this poem, we are reminded that life is fleeting, and that we should make the most of the time that we have while we are alive. We are reminded that death is inevitable, and that one day we will all be forgotten. But perhaps most importantly, we are reminded that even though we may be forgotten, our actions and our impact on the world will continue to live on, long after we are gone.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The To-Be-Forgotten: A Timeless Poem by Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, the renowned English novelist and poet, is known for his melancholic and realistic portrayal of life in his works. One of his most famous poems, The To-Be-Forgotten, is a poignant reflection on the fleeting nature of human existence and the inevitability of being forgotten.
The poem begins with the speaker contemplating the idea of being forgotten after death. He wonders if his name and deeds will be remembered by future generations or if he will fade into obscurity like countless others before him. The opening lines set the tone for the rest of the poem, which is a meditation on the transience of human life.
The second stanza of the poem is particularly powerful, as the speaker reflects on the impermanence of all things. He compares the fleeting nature of human existence to the passing of seasons and the changing of the tides. The imagery used in this stanza is both beautiful and haunting, as it reminds us of the inevitability of death and the impermanence of all things.
In the third stanza, the speaker acknowledges that even the most famous and accomplished individuals will eventually be forgotten. He cites examples of great men and women from history who are now largely forgotten, despite their achievements. This stanza is a sobering reminder that no matter how great our accomplishments may be, they will eventually be forgotten.
The fourth stanza of the poem is perhaps the most poignant, as the speaker reflects on the idea of being forgotten by those we love. He wonders if his loved ones will remember him after he is gone or if they too will forget him over time. This stanza is a reminder of the importance of cherishing our loved ones while we still have them, as we never know when they will be taken from us.
The final stanza of the poem is a reflection on the speaker's own mortality. He acknowledges that he too will eventually be forgotten, and that his name and deeds will be lost to history. However, he finds solace in the fact that he will be reunited with his loved ones in death, and that they will remember him in their own way.
Overall, The To-Be-Forgotten is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that forces us to confront our own mortality and the impermanence of all things. It is a reminder that no matter how great our accomplishments may be, they will eventually be forgotten, and that the only thing that truly matters is the love we share with those around us.
In terms of literary devices, Hardy uses a variety of techniques to convey his message. The use of imagery is particularly effective, as it helps to create a vivid picture of the fleeting nature of human existence. The repetition of the phrase "to be forgotten" throughout the poem also serves to reinforce the central theme and create a sense of inevitability.
The poem is written in a simple and straightforward style, which makes it accessible to readers of all ages and backgrounds. However, the simplicity of the language belies the depth of the message, which is both profound and universal.
In conclusion, The To-Be-Forgotten is a timeless poem that continues to resonate with readers today. It is a reminder of the impermanence of all things and the importance of cherishing our loved ones while we still have them. It is a testament to Hardy's skill as a poet that he is able to convey such a powerful message in such a simple and straightforward manner.
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