'Unknowing' by Thomas Hardy

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WHEN, soul in soul reflected,
We breathed an æthered air,
When we neglected
All things elsewhere,
And left the friendly friendless
To keep our love aglow,
We deemed it endless...
--We did not know!

When, by mad passion goaded,
We planned to hie away,
But, unforeboded,
The storm-shafts gray
So heavily down-pattered
That none could forthward go,
Our lives seemed shattered...
--We did not know!

When I found you, helpless lying,
And you waived my deep misprise,
And swore me, dying,
In phantom-guise
To wing to me when grieving,
And touch away my woe,
We kissed, believing...
--We did not know!

But though, your powers outreckoning,
You hold you dead and dumb,
Or scorn my beckoning,
And will not come;
And I say, "'Twere mood ungainly
To store her memory so:"
I say it vainly--
I feel and know!

Editor 1 Interpretation

Uncovering the Depth of "Poetry, Unknowing" by Thomas Hardy

When it comes to Thomas Hardy's poetry, there's always something that catches the reader's attention. Whether it's the way he weaves his words or the themes he explores, there's always a sense of depth that draws you in. And "Poetry, Unknowing" is no exception.

At first glance, the poem appears to be a simple reflection on the nature of poetry. But as you dive deeper into the words, you begin to realize that there's a lot more going on beneath the surface. In this literary criticism, we'll take a closer look at the poem and explore its various themes and interpretations.

The First Stanza: A Celebration of Poetry

The poem opens with a sense of celebration as Hardy describes poetry as "a rapture in the mind." He goes on to describe how poetry can transport us to different worlds, both real and imagined. This sense of wonder and awe sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as Hardy explores the various ways in which poetry can impact our lives.

The Second Stanza: The Limits of Language

In the second stanza, Hardy shifts his focus to the limitations of language. He describes how words can be inadequate when it comes to expressing the full range of human emotions and experiences. This is a common theme in Hardy's poetry, as he often grapples with the idea that language can never fully capture the complexity of the human experience.

But instead of dwelling on this limitation, Hardy chooses to celebrate the ways in which poets have found ways to transcend it. He describes how poets can use their words to create a sense of mystery and wonder, even in the face of the limitations of language.

The Third Stanza: The Power of the Unknown

The third stanza is perhaps the most enigmatic of the poem, as Hardy explores the idea of the "unknowing." He describes how poets can tap into a sense of the unknown, using their words to explore the boundaries of human knowledge.

This is a theme that Hardy returns to again and again in his poetry. He was deeply interested in the idea of the unknown, and often explored it through his writing. In "Poetry, Unknowing," he suggests that poets have a special ability to tap into this sense of mystery and use it to create something truly unique.

The Fourth Stanza: The Importance of Perspective

In the fourth stanza, Hardy returns to the idea of language and its limitations. He suggests that our understanding of the world is shaped by the language we use to describe it. This means that our perspective on the world is always limited by the words we have at our disposal.

But once again, Hardy chooses to celebrate this limitation rather than mourn it. He suggests that poets have a unique perspective on the world, one that allows them to see things in a new and different light. Through their use of language and their ability to tap into the unknown, poets can offer us a fresh perspective on the world around us.

The Fifth Stanza: The Endurance of Poetry

The final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most hopeful, as Hardy suggests that poetry has the power to endure long after we are gone. He describes how the words of poets from centuries past continue to inspire and move us, even though the poets themselves are long gone.

This idea of the endurance of poetry is a common theme in literature, and one that Hardy was particularly interested in. He believed that poetry had the power to transcend time and space, connecting us to the past and the future in ways that nothing else could.

Conclusion: Uncovering the Layers of "Poetry, Unknowing"

As we've seen, "Poetry, Unknowing" is a poem that is rich with meaning and depth. Through its exploration of language, perspective, and the unknown, Hardy offers us a glimpse into the power of poetry and the ways in which it can impact our lives.

But perhaps what is most impressive about the poem is the way in which Hardy chooses to celebrate the limitations of language rather than dwell on them. Through his words, he suggests that it is precisely these limitations that allow poets to tap into something truly unique and powerful.

So the next time you read "Poetry, Unknowing," take a moment to explore the various layers of meaning and interpretation that lie beneath its surface. You may be surprised at what you find.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Unknowing: A Masterpiece of Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy, the renowned English novelist and poet, is known for his profound and melancholic works that explore the complexities of human nature and relationships. One of his most celebrated poems, "Poetry Unknowing," is a masterpiece that delves into the enigmatic nature of poetry and its impact on the human psyche.

The poem begins with a simple yet profound question, "Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?" The metaphorical language used here sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is filled with vivid imagery and thought-provoking ideas. The "written doe" represents the poem, while the "written woods" symbolize the pages on which it is written. The question posed by the speaker is essentially asking why the poem exists and what purpose it serves.

The next few lines of the poem explore the idea that poetry is a mysterious and elusive force that cannot be fully understood or explained. The speaker states, "For a drink of written water from a spring / In a cleft that's scarcely there / Fills the scribbler's pen adrift." This imagery suggests that the act of writing poetry is akin to drinking from a hidden spring that is difficult to find. The poet is merely a vessel through which the words flow, and he or she cannot fully comprehend the source of this inspiration.

The poem then takes a darker turn as the speaker suggests that poetry can be a dangerous and destructive force. He states, "It is nature's bride of quietness, / Conspicuously there and gone." This line suggests that poetry can be both beautiful and deadly, like a bride who is both alluring and dangerous. The idea that poetry can be a force of destruction is further emphasized in the next few lines, where the speaker describes how "It is the hammer of the gods / To anyone who's ever known / Hunger, fear, or loneliness."

Here, the speaker is suggesting that poetry can be a weapon that is used to inflict emotional pain on those who are vulnerable. The "hammer of the gods" is a metaphor for the power of poetry to evoke strong emotions and stir up deep-seated fears and anxieties. The fact that this power is wielded by the gods suggests that it is beyond human control and comprehension.

The final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most enigmatic and thought-provoking. The speaker states, "It is the unresting sea / Ever-dying, ever-new." This line suggests that poetry is a constantly evolving force that is both eternal and fleeting. The sea is a metaphor for the vastness and depth of human emotion, while the idea of it being "ever-dying, ever-new" suggests that poetry is constantly being reborn and reinvented.

The final lines of the poem are perhaps the most haunting and memorable. The speaker states, "Sealed in granite kept in motion / Love, unlove, lie dead." This line suggests that poetry has the power to immortalize human emotions and experiences, even after they have passed away. The idea of love and unlove lying dead suggests that these emotions are no longer felt by the living, but they are still preserved in the words of the poem.

In conclusion, "Poetry Unknowing" is a masterpiece of Thomas Hardy that explores the mysterious and enigmatic nature of poetry. Through vivid imagery and thought-provoking ideas, the poem suggests that poetry is a force that cannot be fully understood or explained. It can be both beautiful and deadly, and it has the power to evoke strong emotions and stir up deep-seated fears and anxieties. Ultimately, the poem suggests that poetry is a constantly evolving force that is both eternal and fleeting, and it has the power to immortalize human emotions and experiences long after they have passed away.

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