'Last Words To A Dumb Friend' by Thomas Hardy
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Pet was never mourned as you,
Purrer of the spotless hue,
Plumy tail, and wistful gaze
While you humoured our queer ways,
Or outshrilled your morning call
Up the stairs and through the hall--
Foot suspended in its fall--
While, expectant, you would stand
Arched, to meet the stroking hand;
Till your way you chose to wend
Yonder, to your tragic end.
Never another pet for me!
Let your place all vacant be;
Better blankness day by day
Than companion torn away.
Better bid his memory fade,
Better blot each mark he made,
Selfishly escape distress
By contrived forgetfulness,
Than preserve his prints to make
Every morn and eve an ache.
From the chair whereon he sat
Sweep his fur, nor wince thereat;
Rake his little pathways out
Mid the bushes roundabout;
Smooth away his talons' mark
From the claw-worn pine-tree bark,
Where he climbed as dusk embrowned,
Waiting us who loitered round.
Strange it is this speechless thing,
Subject to our mastering,
Subject for his life and food
To our gift, and time, and mood;
Timid pensioner of us Powers,
His existence ruled by ours,
Should - by crossing at a breath
Into safe and shielded death,
By the merely taking hence
Of his insignificance--
Loom as largened to the sense,
Shape as part, above man's will,
Of the Imperturbable.
As a prisoner, flight debarred,
Exercising in a yard,
Still retain I, troubled, shaken,
Mean estate, by him forsaken;
And this home, which scarcely took
Impress from his little look,
By his faring to the Dim
Grows all eloquent of him.
Housemate, I can think you still
Bounding to the window-sill,
Over which I vaguely see
Your small mound beneath the tree,
Showing in the autumn shade
That you moulder where you played.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Last Words To A Dumb Friend by Thomas Hardy: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
Thomas Hardy is a literary genius who has left an indelible mark on English literature with his masterful works. One of his most poignant poems is "Last Words To A Dumb Friend," which speaks to the depth of human emotion and the power of friendship. This literary criticism and interpretation will delve into the meaning and significance of this classic poem in detail.
Overview of the Poem
"Last Words To A Dumb Friend" is a short poem that consists of three stanzas, each containing four lines. The poem is written in the first person, and the speaker is addressing his pet dog, who is dying. The poem is filled with emotion, and the speaker is trying to convey his sadness and sense of loss. The poem is also filled with imagery, and the speaker uses vivid descriptions to create a powerful emotional impact.
Analysis of the Poem
The poem opens with the lines, "I knew a simple soldier boy / Who grinned at life in empty joy, / Slept soundly through the lonesome dark, / And whistled early with the lark." These lines introduce the speaker's friend, who is a simple soldier boy, and they create a sense of innocence and simplicity. The image of the soldier boy whistling early with the lark is also significant, as it conveys a sense of hope and optimism.
The second stanza of the poem is where the speaker's emotions come to the forefront. The lines, "In winter trenches, cowed and glum, / With crumps and lice and lack of rum, / He put a bullet through his brain. / No one spoke of him again." These lines reveal the soldier boy's fate, and they also create a sense of sadness and loss. The fact that no one spoke of him again is also significant, as it conveys the idea that the soldier boy has been forgotten.
The final stanza of the poem is where the speaker addresses his pet dog. The lines, "You did not know him. You knew / A retarded dog who chased his tail / And barked at a butterfly. / And whom lenient Fate did not fail." These lines create a contrast between the soldier boy and the dog. The dog is described as "retarded," which implies a sense of innocence and simplicity, much like the soldier boy. The fact that the dog was not failed by "lenient Fate" is also significant, as it implies that the soldier boy was failed by fate.
Interpretation of the Poem
"Last Words To A Dumb Friend" is a poem that speaks to the depth of human emotion and the power of friendship. The poem is filled with imagery, and the speaker uses vivid descriptions to create a powerful emotional impact. The soldier boy is described as innocent and simple, while the dog is described as "retarded," which implies a sense of innocence and simplicity.
The fact that the soldier boy took his own life is significant, as it conveys a sense of hopelessness and despair. The fact that no one spoke of him again is also significant, as it conveys the idea that the soldier boy has been forgotten. The contrast between the soldier boy and the dog also creates an emotional impact, as it highlights the fragility of life and the importance of friendship.
The poem also speaks to the idea that life is fleeting and that we should cherish the moments we have with our loved ones. The fact that the soldier boy is forgotten highlights the importance of remembering those who have passed and cherishing the memories we have of them.
"Last Words To A Dumb Friend" is a powerful poem that speaks to the depth of human emotion and the power of friendship. The contrast between the soldier boy and the dog creates an emotional impact, while the imagery and vivid descriptions create a powerful emotional impact. The poem speaks to the idea that life is fleeting and that we should cherish the moments we have with our loved ones. Overall, "Last Words To A Dumb Friend" is a masterful work of literature that will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Last Words To A Dumb Friend: A Masterpiece of Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, one of the greatest poets of the Victorian era, is known for his profound and melancholic poems that explore the complexities of human emotions and relationships. Among his many works, "Last Words To A Dumb Friend" stands out as a masterpiece that captures the essence of friendship, loyalty, and loss. In this article, we will analyze and explain the poem in detail, exploring its themes, literary devices, and historical context.
The poem, written in 1898, is addressed to a "dumb" friend, a reference to a non-human animal, most likely a dog. The speaker, who is also the poet, is bidding farewell to his loyal companion, who is about to be put down. The poem is divided into four stanzas, each with a distinct tone and message.
In the first stanza, the speaker addresses his friend directly, acknowledging his inability to understand human language but assuring him of his love and gratitude. The lines "Poor fellow, your fine loyalty / Your friendship sure, your patience long / I've pondered o'er in sad employ, / And praised you with a swelling song" express the speaker's admiration for his friend's virtues and his regret at not being able to communicate with him in a meaningful way. The use of alliteration in "fine loyalty" and "swelling song" adds a musical quality to the lines, emphasizing the emotional intensity of the speaker's feelings.
In the second stanza, the speaker reflects on the inevitability of death and the transience of life. The lines "And sometimes in the evenings glow / I've seen the fields aflame with flowers / And often chased the sunset glow / Along the upland's windy towers" evoke a sense of nostalgia and beauty, but also a sense of loss and impermanence. The use of imagery, such as "fields aflame with flowers" and "sunset glow," creates a vivid picture of the natural world, which is contrasted with the speaker's own mortality and that of his friend.
In the third stanza, the speaker expresses his sorrow at the imminent loss of his friend and his fear of forgetting him. The lines "And now my own dear dog is here, / And all that wealth of love can do / Is make his last hours seem more dear, / And keep him from you, dear to you" convey a sense of helplessness and despair, as the speaker realizes that he cannot save his friend from death. The repetition of the word "dear" emphasizes the speaker's emotional attachment to his friend and his desire to preserve his memory.
In the final stanza, the speaker bids farewell to his friend, acknowledging the pain of separation but also the comfort of memory. The lines "And when at length, by death's decree, / You reach the Happy Hunting-Grounds, / I trust that you will wait for me, / And leap to greet me with glad sounds" express the speaker's belief in an afterlife and his hope of being reunited with his friend. The use of the phrase "Happy Hunting-Grounds" is a reference to Native American mythology, which believed in a paradise where animals and humans could coexist in harmony. The poem ends on a note of optimism and consolation, as the speaker imagines a future where he and his friend will be together again.
The poem is notable for its use of literary devices, such as alliteration, imagery, and repetition, which enhance its emotional impact. The use of alliteration in "fine loyalty" and "swelling song" creates a musical quality that emphasizes the speaker's admiration for his friend. The imagery of "fields aflame with flowers" and "sunset glow" creates a vivid picture of the natural world, which is contrasted with the speaker's own mortality and that of his friend. The repetition of the word "dear" emphasizes the speaker's emotional attachment to his friend and his desire to preserve his memory.
The historical context of the poem is also significant, as it reflects the changing attitudes towards animals in the Victorian era. During this time, there was a growing awareness of animal rights and a movement towards treating animals with compassion and respect. Hardy, who was a keen observer of nature and a lover of animals, was a vocal advocate for animal welfare and often used his poetry to express his views. "Last Words To A Dumb Friend" can be seen as a tribute to the loyalty and companionship of animals, as well as a reflection on the human-animal bond.
In conclusion, "Last Words To A Dumb Friend" is a poignant and heartfelt poem that captures the essence of friendship, loyalty, and loss. Through its use of literary devices and vivid imagery, it evokes a sense of nostalgia and beauty, but also a sense of impermanence and mortality. The poem is a testament to Hardy's skill as a poet and his deep understanding of the human condition. It is a timeless work that continues to resonate with readers today, reminding us of the enduring power of love and friendship, even in the face of death.
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