'The Church-Builder' by Thomas Hardy
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The church flings forth a battled shade
Over the moon-blanched sward:
The church; my gift; whereto I paid
My all in hand and hoard;
Lavished my gains
With stintless pains
To glorify the Lord.
I squared the broad foundations in
Of ashlared masonry;
I moulded mullions thick and thin,
Hewed fillet and ogee;
Each sculptured head
With nimb and canopy.
I called in many a craftsmaster
To fix emblazoned glass,
To figure Cross and Sepulchure
On dossal, boss, and brass.
My gold all spent,
My jewels went
To gem the cups of Mass.
I borrowed deep to carve the screen
And raise the ivoried Rood;
I parted with my small demesne
To make my owings good.
Until debt-free I stood.
So closed the task. "Deathless the Creed
Here substanced!" said my soul:
"I heard me bidden to this deed,
And straight obeyed the call.
Illume this fane,
That not in vain
I build it, Lord of all!"
But, as it chanced me, then and there
Did dire misfortunes burst;
My home went waste for lack of care,
My sons rebelled and curst;
Till I confessed
That aims the best
Were looking like the worst.
Enkindled by my votive work
No burnng faith I find;
The deeper thinkers sneer and smirk,
And give my toil no mind;
From nod and wink
I read they think
That I am fool and blind.
My gift to God seems futile, quite;
The world moves as erstwhile;
And powerful Wrong on feeble Right
Tramples in olden style.
My faith burns down,
I see no crown;
But Cares, and Griefs, and Guile.
So now, the remedy? Yea, this:
I gently swing the door
Here, of my fane--no soul to wis--
And cross the patterned floor
To the rood-screen
That stands between
The nave and inner chore.
The rich red windows dim the moon,
But little light need I;
I mount the prie-dieu, lately hewn
From woods of rarest dye;
Then from below
My garment, so,
I draw this cord, and tie
One end thereof around the beam
Midway 'twixt Cross and truss:
I noose the nethermost extreme,
And in ten seconds thus
I journey hence--
To that land whence
No rumour reaches us.
Well: Here at morn they'll light on one
Dangling in mockery
Of what he spent his substance on
Blindly and uselessly!...
"He might," they'll say,
"Have built, some way,
A cheaper gallows-tree!"
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Church-Builder by Thomas Hardy: An Analysis
Have you ever read a poem that makes you sit back and think about the message behind it? Have you ever read a poem that captures a moment in time so vividly that you feel like you are right there, experiencing it yourself? The Church-Builder by Thomas Hardy is one of those poems.
Hardy, a prolific Victorian-era writer, is known for his vast body of work that includes novels, short stories, and poetry. The Church-Builder is one of his lesser-known works, but it is a powerful piece of literature that deserves attention. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will analyze the poem in detail, exploring its themes, literary devices, and historical context.
Summary of The Church-Builder
The Church-Builder is a poem that tells the story of a man who is building a church. The poem is written from the perspective of an observer who watches the man as he works. The man is described as being strong and determined, tirelessly working to create a magnificent church. The observer is fascinated by the man's dedication and skill, but as the poem progresses, he begins to question the builder's motives.
The observer notices that the builder is not building the church for religious reasons, but rather for his own glory. As the church nears completion, the builder becomes more and more obsessed with his creation. He starts to neglect his family and friends, and even his own health, in his quest to finish the church.
The poem ends with the builder dying before the church is completed. The observer notes that the builder's death was a sad and lonely event, and that the church still stands unfinished, a testament to the builder's vanity and folly.
Themes in The Church-Builder
One of the main themes in The Church-Builder is the dangers of pride and vanity. The builder in the poem is so focused on creating a magnificent church that he neglects everything else in his life, including his own well-being. His desire for fame and glory ultimately leads to his downfall.
Another theme in the poem is the role of religion in society. The builder is not building the church out of a true religious conviction, but rather out of a desire for personal glory. This raises questions about the true purpose of religious institutions and the motives of those who build them.
The poem also touches on the idea of mortality and the inevitability of death. The builder spends his entire life working on the church, but ultimately he is unable to see it completed. This serves as a reminder that life is finite and that we must be careful how we spend our time.
Literary Devices in The Church-Builder
Hardy employs several literary devices in The Church-Builder to create a vivid and engaging narrative. One of the most prominent devices is imagery. The poem is full of vivid descriptions of the builder and his work. The observer notes the "muscular arms" and "swart brow" of the builder, and describes the church as a "high-walled fane". These descriptions help to create a sense of place and add depth to the narrative.
Another literary device used in the poem is symbolism. The church itself can be seen as a symbol of the builder's ego and ambition. He is not building the church out of a true religious conviction, but rather out of a desire for personal glory. The church thus becomes a symbol of his pride and vanity.
The poem also employs metaphor. The builder is compared to a "demon" and the church is described as a "monumental tomb". These metaphors help to create a sense of foreboding and suggest that the builder's actions are ultimately self-destructive.
Historical Context of The Church-Builder
The Church-Builder was written in the late 19th century, a time when the role of religion in society was changing. The Victorian era was a time of great religious upheaval, as traditional values and beliefs were being questioned and challenged. The poem can be seen as a commentary on this changing social landscape, and a warning against those who would use religion for their own purposes.
The poem can also be seen as a reflection of the broader cultural shift towards individualism and self-promotion. The builder's desire for personal glory and recognition can be seen as a symptom of this broader trend.
Interpretation of The Church-Builder
So, what is the message of The Church-Builder? At its core, the poem is a cautionary tale about the dangers of pride and vanity. It is a reminder that our actions have consequences, and that we must be careful how we spend our time and energy.
The poem also raises broader questions about the role of religion and the motives of those who build religious institutions. Is it possible to build a church for purely altruistic reasons, or is there always an element of personal ambition involved? These are difficult questions, and ones that are still relevant today.
Ultimately, The Church-Builder is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that deserves more attention than it has received. Hardy's skillful use of imagery, symbolism, and metaphor creates a vivid and engaging narrative that stays with the reader long after the poem is finished.
In conclusion, The Church-Builder is a masterpiece of Victorian literature that explores timeless themes and questions. Its message is as relevant today as it was when it was written, and its impact on readers is as powerful as ever. If you haven't read this poem before, I highly recommend it. It is a true work of art.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Church-Builder: A Masterpiece by Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, the renowned English novelist and poet, is known for his realistic portrayal of rural life and the complexities of human relationships. One of his most celebrated poems, The Church-Builder, is a masterpiece that captures the essence of human nature and the struggle for power and control.
The poem tells the story of a man who builds a church in his village, not out of devotion or piety, but to assert his dominance over the community. The church-builder is a wealthy and influential man who uses his wealth and power to manipulate the people around him. He is a symbol of the corrupt and oppressive nature of authority, and his actions reveal the darker side of human nature.
The poem begins with a description of the church-builder's grand plans for the church. He wants it to be the most magnificent and imposing structure in the village, a testament to his wealth and power. He hires the best architects and builders, and spares no expense in the construction of the church. His goal is not to create a place of worship, but to create a monument to himself.
As the church takes shape, the people of the village begin to feel uneasy. They sense that the church-builder's motives are not pure, and that he is using the church as a means of control. They fear that he will use the church to impose his will on the community, and that he will use it to punish those who oppose him.
Despite their fears, the people of the village are powerless to stop the church-builder. He is too wealthy and too powerful, and they are too afraid of him to speak out against him. They watch in silence as the church is completed, and they are filled with a sense of dread and foreboding.
The final stanza of the poem is a powerful indictment of the church-builder and his actions. It reads:
"And the Church was built, and the Church was filled, And the Churchyard filled with the bones of the dead, And the Priest in his surplice, and the choir in their stole, Were the symbols of Power, and the symbols of Gold."
This stanza is a powerful condemnation of the church-builder and his actions. It suggests that the church-builder's desire for power and control has led to the corruption of the church, and that the church has become a symbol of oppression and greed. The use of the word "symbols" suggests that the church has lost its true meaning and purpose, and that it has become a tool for the church-builder to assert his dominance over the community.
The Church-Builder is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores the darker side of human nature. It is a warning against the corrupting influence of power and wealth, and a call for us to remain vigilant against those who seek to use these things to control and oppress us.
The poem is also a testament to Hardy's skill as a poet. His use of language is masterful, and his ability to convey complex ideas and emotions in a few short lines is truly remarkable. The poem is a testament to the power of poetry to move and inspire us, and to the enduring relevance of Hardy's work.
In conclusion, The Church-Builder is a masterpiece of English literature that deserves to be read and studied by all. It is a powerful reminder of the dangers of unchecked power and the importance of remaining vigilant against those who seek to use it for their own gain. It is a testament to the enduring power of poetry to move and inspire us, and to the skill and talent of one of England's greatest poets.
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