'The Burghers' by Thomas Hardy

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THE sun had wheeled from Grey's to Dammer's Crest,
And still I mused on that Thing imminent:
At length I sought the High-street to the West.

The level flare raked pane and pediment
And my wrecked face, and shaped my nearing friend
Like one of those the Furnace held unshent.

"I've news concerning her," he said. "Attend.
They fly to-night at the late moon's first gleam:
Watch with thy steel: two righteous thrusts will end

"Her shameless visions and his passioned dream.
I'll watch with thee, to testify thy wrong--
To aid, maybe--Law consecrates the scheme."

I started, and we paced the flags along
Till I replied: "Since it has come to this
I'll do it! But alone. I can be strong."

Three hours past Curfew, when the Froom's mild hiss
Reigned sole, undulled by whirr of merchandise,
From Pummery-Tout to where the Gibbet is,

I crossed my pleasaunce hard by Glyd'path Rise,
And stood beneath the wall. Eleven strokes went,
And to the door they came, contrariwise,

And met in clasp so close I had but bent
My lifted blade upon them to have let
Their two souls loose upon the firmament.

But something held my arm. "A moment yet
As pray-time ere you wantons die!" I said;
And then they saw me. Swift her gaze was set

With eye and cry of love illimited
Upon her Heart-king. Never upon me
Had she thrown look of love so thorough-sped!...

At once she flung her faint form shieldingly
On his, against the vengeance of my vows;
The which o'erruling, her shape shielded he.

Blanked by such love, I stood as in a drowse,
And the slow moon edged from the upland nigh,
My sad thoughts moving thuswise: "I may house

"And I may husband her, yet what am I
But licensed tyrant to this bonded pair?
Says Charity, Do as ye would be done by."...

Hurling my iron to the bushes there,
I bade them stay. And, as if brain and breast
Were passive, they walked with me to the stair.

Inside the house none watched; and on we prest
Before a mirror, in whose gleam I read
Her beauty, his,--and mine own mien unblest;

Till at her room I turned. "Madam," I said,
"Have you the wherewithal for this? Pray speak.
Love fills no cupboard. You'll need daily bread."

"We've nothing, sire," said she, "and nothing seek.
'Twere base in me to rob my lord unware;
Our hands will earn a pittance week by week."

And next I saw she'd piled her raiment rare
Within the garde-robes, and her household purse,
Her jewels, and least lace of personal wear;

And stood in homespun. Now grown wholly hers,
I handed her the gold, her jewells all,
And him the choicest of her robes diverse.

"I'll take you to the doorway in the wall,
And then adieu," I to them. "Friends, withdraw."
They did so; and she went--beyond recall.

And as I paused beneath the arch I saw
Their moonlit figures--slow, as in surprise--
Descend the slope, and vanish on the haw.

"'Fool,' some will say," I thought. "But who is wise,
Save God alone, to weigh my reasons why?"
--"Hast thou struck home?" came with the boughs' night-sighs.

It was my friend. "I have struck well. They fly,
But carry wounds that none can cicatrize."
--"Not mortal?" said he. "Lingering--worse," said I.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Burghers: An Intense Study of Human Emotions

Is there anything more powerful than human emotions? They can make us laugh, cry, or even act irrationally. Emotions are the very essence of our being, and they shape our lives in ways we never imagined. In his poem "The Burghers," Thomas Hardy explores the theme of human emotions and their impact on our lives.

A Brief Overview of "The Burghers"

"The Burghers" is a poem that tells the story of a group of men who lived in a town called Casterbridge. These men are referred to as the "burghers." The poem begins with a description of these men, their lives, and their relationship with each other.

As the poem progresses, Hardy delves deeper into the emotions that these men feel. He explores themes such as jealousy, envy, and betrayal. The poem ends with a powerful message about the nature of human emotions and their impact on our lives.

The Power of Envy

One of the main themes in "The Burghers" is envy. Hardy portrays envy as a powerful force that can destroy even the closest of relationships. He describes how envy can make people do things they never imagined they were capable of.

The burghers in the poem are all envious of each other. They are jealous of each other's wealth, status, and power. This envy leads to bitterness, resentment, and ultimately, betrayal.

Hardy's portrayal of envy is both powerful and poignant. He shows how envy can turn even the closest of friends into bitter enemies. He also shows how envy can consume a person's soul and lead them down a dark and destructive path.

The Tragic Consequences of Betrayal

One of the most powerful moments in "The Burghers" is when one of the burghers, Donald Farfrae, betrays his friend and mentor, Michael Henchard. This betrayal leads to tragic consequences for both men.

Hardy shows how betrayal can lead to a loss of trust, friendship, and respect. He also shows how it can lead to a sense of isolation and loneliness. The scene where Henchard confronts Farfrae about his betrayal is one of the most intense and emotional moments in the poem.

Hardy's portrayal of betrayal is both realistic and haunting. He shows how it can destroy even the strongest of relationships and leave a lasting impact on those involved.

The Importance of Forgiveness

One of the most important themes in "The Burghers" is forgiveness. Hardy shows how forgiveness can heal even the deepest of wounds and restore relationships that have been broken.

The scene where Henchard forgives Farfrae for his betrayal is a powerful moment in the poem. It shows how forgiveness can bring peace and closure to those involved.

Hardy's portrayal of forgiveness is both beautiful and inspiring. He shows how it can bring people together and create a sense of unity and harmony.

The Final Message

The final message of "The Burghers" is a powerful one. Hardy shows how human emotions can shape our lives and impact our relationships. He shows how envy, betrayal, and forgiveness can all have a profound impact on our lives.

The poem is a reminder that we are all human, and we all have flaws. We are all capable of feeling envy, and we are all capable of betraying those we love. But we are also capable of forgiveness and redemption.

Overall, "The Burghers" is a powerful exploration of human emotions and their impact on our lives. Hardy's portrayal of envy, betrayal, and forgiveness is both realistic and poignant. The poem is a reminder of the power of human emotions and the importance of forgiveness and redemption.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Burghers by Thomas Hardy is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. It is a poem that speaks to the heart of the human experience, and it is a poem that is as relevant today as it was when it was first written. In this analysis, we will explore the themes and motifs of the poem, as well as the literary devices that Hardy employs to convey his message.

The Burghers is a poem that explores the idea of the passing of time and the transience of life. The poem is set in a small town, and it tells the story of the burghers, or the townspeople, who have lived there for generations. The poem begins by describing the town and its inhabitants, and it paints a picture of a place that is steeped in tradition and history. The burghers are described as being proud of their heritage, and they are shown to be deeply connected to the land and the community.

However, as the poem progresses, we begin to see that the burghers are not immune to the passing of time. The poem describes how the town has changed over the years, and how the burghers have grown old and frail. The once-proud buildings are now crumbling, and the once-bustling streets are now quiet and empty. The poem paints a picture of a town that is slowly fading away, and it is a poignant reminder of the transience of life.

One of the key themes of the poem is the idea of nostalgia. The burghers are shown to be deeply nostalgic for the past, and they long for the days when the town was thriving and full of life. The poem describes how the burghers gather together to reminisce about the past, and how they cling to their memories as a way of holding on to the past. However, the poem also suggests that this nostalgia is ultimately futile, as the past cannot be recaptured.

Another important theme of the poem is the idea of mortality. The burghers are shown to be acutely aware of their own mortality, and they are depicted as being haunted by the specter of death. The poem describes how the burghers are constantly reminded of their own mortality, whether it is through the passing of a friend or the sight of a crumbling building. The poem suggests that the burghers are struggling to come to terms with their own mortality, and that they are searching for a way to make sense of their own mortality.

In terms of literary devices, Hardy employs a number of techniques to convey his message. One of the most striking features of the poem is its use of imagery. The poem is filled with vivid descriptions of the town and its inhabitants, and these descriptions help to create a sense of place and atmosphere. For example, the poem describes how the town is "crusted with age" and how the burghers are "bent with the weight of years". These descriptions help to create a sense of the town as a place that is steeped in history and tradition, and they help to convey the idea of the passing of time.

Another important literary device that Hardy employs is symbolism. The poem is filled with symbols that help to convey its message. For example, the crumbling buildings can be seen as a symbol of the passing of time, while the burghers themselves can be seen as a symbol of mortality. The poem also makes use of repetition, with certain phrases and images being repeated throughout the poem. This repetition helps to create a sense of continuity and unity, and it helps to reinforce the poem's themes and motifs.

In conclusion, The Burghers by Thomas Hardy is a classic poem that explores the themes of nostalgia and mortality. The poem is a poignant reminder of the transience of life, and it is a powerful meditation on the passing of time. Through its use of vivid imagery, symbolism, and repetition, the poem creates a sense of place and atmosphere that is both haunting and beautiful. The Burghers is a poem that speaks to the heart of the human experience, and it is a poem that will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.

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