'Afterwards' by Thomas Hardy
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When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,
And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,
"He was a man who used to notice such things"?
If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid's soundless blink,
The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight
Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think,
"To him this must have been a familiar sight."
If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm,
When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn,
One may say, "He strove that such innocent creatures should
come to no harm,
But he could do little for them; and now he is gone."
If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at
Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees,
Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more,
"He was one who had an eye for such mysteries"?
And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom,
And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings,
Till they rise again, as they were a new bell's boom,
"He hears it not now, but used to notice such things?"
Editor 1 Interpretation
"Afterwards" is a thoughtful and reflective poem by Thomas Hardy that contemplates the legacy we leave behind after we die. The poem is a meditation on the transience of life and the importance of cherishing every moment. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the themes, imagery, structure, and language of "Afterwards" to gain a deeper understanding of the poem and its significance.
The poem explores several themes, including mortality, legacy, memory, and the passage of time. The speaker contemplates the fleeting nature of life and the inevitability of death, but also suggests that we can live on through our legacy and the memories we leave behind. The poem also explores the idea of the afterlife and the possibility of an eternal existence beyond death.
The imagery in "Afterwards" is rich and evocative, creating a vivid and atmospheric setting for the poem. The opening lines describe a "blackbird singing" and "a star or two," creating a sense of tranquility and peace. The poem then moves on to describe the speaker's funeral, with the image of "a chattering jackdaw on the roof" suggesting the presence of life amidst death. The poem also uses natural imagery, such as "the apple boughs" and "the slim moon," to create a sense of beauty and wonder in the world.
The poem is divided into four stanzas of varying lengths, with a total of 24 lines. The first three stanzas each begin with the word "If," suggesting a hypothetical or theoretical approach to the themes of the poem. The final stanza breaks this pattern, with the speaker addressing the reader directly and offering a more concrete and personal reflection on the poem's themes. The form of the poem is simple, with a regular rhyme scheme and meter, but this simplicity belies the complexity of the poem's themes and ideas.
The language of "Afterwards" is simple and direct, with a conversational tone that invites the reader into the speaker's thoughts and reflections. The use of conditional phrases, such as "If I should die," creates a sense of uncertainty and fragility, while the repetition of the phrase "I shall" in the final stanza suggests a sense of certainty and conviction. The poem also makes use of alliteration and other poetic devices, such as the repetition of the word "and" in the first stanza, to create a sense of musicality and rhythm.
At its heart, "Afterwards" is a poem about the legacy we leave behind after we die. The speaker contemplates the transience of life and the inevitability of death, but also suggests that we can live on through our legacy and the memories we leave behind. The poem acknowledges the pain and sorrow of death, but also celebrates the beauty and wonder of life. Through its rich imagery, simple structure, and direct language, "Afterwards" offers a powerful and moving reflection on the human condition.
In conclusion, "Afterwards" is a powerful poem that explores the themes of mortality, legacy, memory, and the passage of time. Through its rich imagery, simple structure, and direct language, the poem invites the reader into the speaker's thoughts and reflections, offering a moving meditation on the transience of life and the importance of cherishing every moment. As we contemplate our own mortality, "Afterwards" offers a poignant reminder to live our lives to the fullest and leave behind a legacy that will endure beyond our own passing.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Afterwards by Thomas Hardy: A Poem of Reflection and Acceptance
Thomas Hardy, one of the most celebrated writers of the Victorian era, is known for his poignant and often melancholic works. His poem, "Afterwards," is no exception. This piece is a reflection on life, death, and the inevitability of change. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and language of the poem to gain a deeper understanding of its meaning.
The poem is divided into four stanzas, each consisting of four lines. The structure is simple, yet effective in conveying the message of the poem. The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the piece. The speaker begins by acknowledging that he will not be remembered for his accomplishments or his wealth. Instead, he will be remembered for the small things he did in life, such as planting a tree or tending to a garden. This sets the stage for the rest of the poem, which is a reflection on the importance of the small things in life.
The second stanza is a reflection on the beauty of nature. The speaker describes the changing of the seasons and the beauty of the countryside. He acknowledges that he will not be around to witness these changes, but he takes comfort in knowing that they will continue to happen long after he is gone. This stanza is a reminder that life is fleeting, but nature endures.
The third stanza is perhaps the most poignant of the poem. The speaker reflects on his own mortality and the inevitability of death. He acknowledges that death is a part of life and that it is something that we must all face. However, he takes comfort in the fact that he has lived a good life and that he will be remembered for the small things he did. This stanza is a reminder that life is short, but it is what we do with our time that matters.
The final stanza is a reflection on the afterlife. The speaker acknowledges that he does not know what happens after we die, but he takes comfort in the idea that he will be reunited with loved ones who have passed before him. He also takes comfort in the fact that he will be remembered for the small things he did in life. This stanza is a reminder that death is not the end, but rather a transition to something else.
The themes of the poem are universal and timeless. The poem is a reflection on the importance of the small things in life, the beauty of nature, the inevitability of death, and the afterlife. These themes are relevant to people of all ages and backgrounds.
The language of the poem is simple yet effective. Hardy uses imagery to convey the beauty of nature and the changing of the seasons. He also uses repetition to emphasize the importance of the small things in life. For example, in the first stanza, he repeats the phrase "and afterwards" to emphasize that it is the small things that will be remembered after we are gone.
Overall, "Afterwards" is a powerful and poignant poem that reminds us of the importance of the small things in life. It is a reflection on life, death, and the afterlife that is relevant to people of all ages and backgrounds. The simple yet effective structure and language of the poem make it accessible to all readers. This poem is a testament to Hardy's skill as a writer and his ability to convey complex ideas in a simple yet powerful way.
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