'To Outer Nature' by Thomas Hardy

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SHOW thee as I thought thee
When I early sought thee,
All undoubting
Love alone had wrought thee--

Wrought thee for my pleasure,
Planned thee as a measure
For expounding
And resounding
Glad things that men treasure.

O for but a moment
Of that old endowment--
Light to gaily
See thy daily
Irisèd embowment!

But such readorning
Time forbids with scorning--
Makes me see things
Cease to be things
They were in my morning.

Fad'st thou, glow-forsaken,
Thy first sweetness,
Radiance, meetness,
None shall reawaken.

Why not sempiternal
Thou and I? Our vernal
Brightness keeping,
Time outleaping;
Passed the hodiernal!

Editor 1 Interpretation

Unveiling the Enigma of Nature through Thomas Hardy's "To Outer Nature"

Nature has always been a subject of fascination for poets and writers alike, and Thomas Hardy is no exception. His poem "To Outer Nature" is a vivid depiction of the beauty and mysteries of nature that have enthralled humans for centuries. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve deep into the poem's themes, imagery, and language to unravel the enigma of nature as portrayed by Hardy.

Overview of the Poem

"To Outer Nature" is a fourteen-line poem in the form of a Petrarchan sonnet. It was first published in 1898 in Hardy's collection of poems, "Wessex Poems." The poem is addressed to nature as an entity or a personification, and the speaker expresses his admiration and awe for the natural world.

Themes in "To Outer Nature"

The poem explores several themes, including the interconnectedness of all life, the transience of human existence, and the power and beauty of nature. The speaker acknowledges that despite human efforts to control and dominate nature, it remains the ultimate authority that governs all life.

One of the central themes of the poem is the idea of impermanence. The speaker acknowledges that everything in life is fleeting and that human existence is but a small part of the greater cycle of life and death. This is evident in the lines, "All things thou hast produced, O Nature old! / The sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the hills, / The myriad forms of life by thee controlled, / Are but a moment's show, and then death kills."

Another theme in the poem is the idea of interconnectedness. The speaker acknowledges that all life is connected, and that despite our efforts to control and dominate nature, we are still a part of it. This is evident in the lines, "We fain would hold thee still, as if we were / The movers and the source of thy great flow; / We are but atoms in thy mighty stir, / Insignificant, and doomed like all below."

Imagery and Language

Hardy's use of vivid imagery and language is one of the hallmarks of his poetry, and "To Outer Nature" is no exception. The poem is filled with vivid images that evoke the beauty and power of nature. For instance, the first line of the poem, "O outward semblance of the Eternal One!" creates an image of nature as a reflection of the divine. The speaker goes on to describe nature as "the sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the hills," evoking a sense of grandeur and majesty.

The poem also makes use of personification to create a sense of intimacy between the speaker and nature. The speaker addresses nature directly, as if it were a person, saying, "O Nature old!" and "thou hast produced." This personification creates a sense of reverence and respect for nature as a living, breathing entity.

Another striking aspect of the poem is its use of rhyme and meter. The poem follows the traditional Petrarchan sonnet form, with its fourteen lines divided into two sections: an eight-line octave and a six-line sestet. The rhyme scheme is ABBA ABBA CDCDCD, and the meter is primarily iambic pentameter. This formal structure gives the poem a sense of order and control, even as it explores the wild and untamed aspects of nature.


At its core, "To Outer Nature" is a meditation on the power and beauty of nature, and the transience of human existence. The poem acknowledges our desire to control and dominate nature, but ultimately recognizes that nature is the ultimate authority, and that all life is interconnected and impermanent.

The poem can also be seen as a reflection of Hardy's own worldview. Hardy was deeply skeptical of traditional religious beliefs, and saw nature as a source of awe and wonder that could inspire a sense of spirituality. In this sense, "To Outer Nature" can be seen as a celebration of the natural world, and a rejection of the notion that humans are the center of the universe.

In conclusion, "To Outer Nature" is a masterful exploration of the beauty and mystery of nature. Through its vivid imagery and language, the poem invites us to contemplate the majesty and power of the natural world, and to recognize our own place within it. As we read these lines, we are reminded of the eternal truth that nature is both our source of sustenance and our ultimate destination.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry To Outer Nature: A Masterpiece by Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy, the renowned English novelist and poet, is known for his exceptional ability to capture the essence of nature in his works. His poem, "Poetry To Outer Nature," is a masterpiece that showcases his love for nature and his ability to express it through his words. In this article, we will delve into the poem and analyze its themes, structure, and literary devices.

The poem begins with the speaker addressing nature as a "mighty world-encircling sphere." This opening line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as it establishes the speaker's reverence for nature. The speaker goes on to describe the beauty of nature, using vivid imagery to paint a picture of the world around him. He describes the "azure sky," the "green earth," and the "rippling water" in a way that makes the reader feel as though they are standing in the midst of it all.

One of the main themes of the poem is the idea that nature is eternal and unchanging. The speaker describes how the "ancient hills" and the "everlasting sea" have been around for centuries, and will continue to exist long after he is gone. This theme is reinforced throughout the poem, as the speaker marvels at the "eternal calm" of nature and the way it remains unchanged despite the passing of time.

Another theme that runs throughout the poem is the idea that nature is a source of inspiration for poets and artists. The speaker describes how he has been "stirred to song" by the beauty of nature and how it has inspired him to write poetry. This theme is particularly relevant to Hardy, who was known for his love of nature and his ability to capture its essence in his writing.

The structure of the poem is also worth noting. It is written in free verse, which means that it does not follow a strict rhyme scheme or meter. This gives the poem a natural, flowing feel that mirrors the rhythm of nature itself. The lack of a strict structure also allows Hardy to experiment with different literary devices, such as repetition and alliteration, which he uses to great effect throughout the poem.

One example of this is the repetition of the phrase "O world-encircling sphere" throughout the poem. This repetition serves to reinforce the speaker's reverence for nature and to emphasize the idea that nature is all-encompassing and eternal. Another example is the use of alliteration in the line "rippling water, whispering wind," which creates a sense of movement and fluidity that mirrors the movement of the water and the wind.

Overall, "Poetry To Outer Nature" is a beautiful and powerful poem that showcases Hardy's love for nature and his ability to express it through his words. Its themes of the eternal nature of the natural world and its ability to inspire poets and artists are timeless and continue to resonate with readers today. The poem's structure and use of literary devices also make it a masterful example of free verse poetry. It is a true masterpiece that deserves to be read and appreciated by all lovers of poetry and nature alike.

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