'The Year's Awakening' by Thomas Hardy

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How do you know that the pilgrim track
Along the belting zodiac
Swept by the sun in his seeming rounds
Is traced by now to the Fishes' bounds
And into the Ram, when weeks of cloud
Have wrapt the sky in a clammy shroud,
And never as yet a tinct of spring
Has shown in the Earth's apparelling;
O vespering bird, how do you know,
How do you know?

How do you know, deep underground,
Hid in your bed from sight and sound,
Without a turn in temperature,
With weather life can scarce endure,
That light has won a fraction's strength,
And day put on some moments' length,
Whereof in merest rote will come,
Weeks hence, mild airs that do not numb;
O crocus root, how do you know,
How do you know?

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Year's Awakening by Thomas Hardy

Oh, what a beautiful piece of poetry The Year's Awakening is! Written by the acclaimed author Thomas Hardy, this poem captures the essence of the changing seasons and the beauty of nature. It is a timeless piece of literature that resonates with readers even today.


The Year's Awakening was published in 1904, as part of the collection "Time's Laughingstocks and Other Verses". Thomas Hardy is best known for his novels such as Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Far from the Madding Crowd, but he was also a prolific poet. His poetry often reflects his interest in the natural world, and The Year's Awakening is no exception.


The poem is divided into four stanzas, each describing a different season. The first stanza describes the "year's awakening" in spring, when flowers bloom and birds sing. The second stanza describes the "summer of the soul", with its lush greenery and warm sunshine. The third stanza describes the "autumn's gracious mirth", as the leaves turn red and gold. The final stanza describes the "winter of the mind", with its darkness and cold.

Hardy's language is both beautiful and evocative. He uses vivid imagery to describe the changing seasons, such as "herald of what is new", "blue air's wild baptismal dew", and "the sapphire's tinted masque". This creates a strong sense of the natural world coming to life, as if the seasons themselves are characters in the poem.

Furthermore, the poem is rich in symbolism. The changing seasons represent not only the passage of time but also the cycle of life. Spring represents birth and new beginnings, summer represents growth and abundance, autumn represents maturity and decline, and winter represents death and decay. These themes are universal and timeless, and they resonate with readers of all ages and backgrounds.

The poem's structure is also noteworthy. Each stanza has a similar structure, with four lines per stanza and a rhyme scheme of ABAB. This gives the poem a sense of balance and symmetry, echoing the cyclical nature of the seasons. The final stanza, however, breaks from this structure with a rhyme scheme of ABCB. This creates a sense of unease and disruption, mirroring the darkness and cold of winter.


The Year's Awakening is a deeply reflective and introspective poem. It invites readers to contemplate the beauty of the natural world and the passing of time. It also encourages readers to reflect on their own lives and the cyclical nature of human experience.

The poem's final stanza, in particular, is both haunting and poignant. It suggests that just as the seasons inevitably turn from spring to winter, so too do our own lives inevitably come to an end. However, the poem also suggests that there is a kind of beauty in this cycle, as it is the natural order of things.

In this sense, The Year's Awakening is a deeply philosophical poem. It asks us to consider our place in the world and the meaning of our lives. It also reminds us that death is a natural part of life, and that the changing seasons are a reminder of this fact.


In conclusion, The Year's Awakening is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem. It captures the essence of the changing seasons and the beauty of nature, while also inviting readers to reflect on the cyclical nature of human experience. It is a timeless piece of literature that is sure to continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Year's Awakening: 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 are characterized by a deep understanding of human nature and a keen observation of the natural world. One of his most celebrated poems is "The Year's Awakening," which captures the essence of the changing seasons and the cycle of life.

The poem begins with a description of the winter landscape, with "frosty nights" and "icy winds." The speaker notes that the trees are bare and the fields are empty, as if the world has been stripped of all life. However, the speaker also notes that this is not the end, but rather the beginning of a new cycle. The winter is a time of rest and renewal, a time for the earth to gather strength for the coming spring.

As the poem progresses, the speaker describes the gradual awakening of the natural world. The first signs of life are the "snowdrops" and "crocuses" that push their way through the frozen ground. These delicate flowers are a symbol of hope and resilience, a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always the possibility of renewal.

As the days grow longer and the sun grows stronger, the world begins to come alive. The trees bud and the birds return, filling the air with their joyful songs. The fields are no longer empty, but are filled with the promise of new growth. The speaker notes that this is a time of "quickened powers," a time when the earth is bursting with energy and vitality.

However, the poem also acknowledges the fleeting nature of this renewal. The speaker notes that the spring is "brief," and that it will soon give way to the heat of summer. The flowers will wither and the fields will turn brown, as the earth prepares for another period of rest. This cycle of life and death is a reminder of the impermanence of all things, and the need to appreciate the beauty of the world while we can.

Overall, "The Year's Awakening" is a masterful exploration of the natural world and the cycle of life. Through his vivid descriptions and keen observations, Thomas Hardy captures the beauty and fragility of the world around us. The poem is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always the possibility of renewal and growth. It is a celebration of the resilience of nature, and a call to appreciate the fleeting beauty of the world while we can.

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