'The Stranger's Song' by Thomas Hardy
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(As sung by Mr. Charles Charrington in the play of "The Three Wayfarers")
O MY trade it is the rarest one,
Simple shepherds all--
My trade is a sight to see;
For my customers I tie, and take 'em up on high,
And waft 'em to a far countree!
My tools are but common ones,
Simple shepherds all--
My tools are no sight to see:
A little hempen string, and a post whereon to swing,
Are implements enough for me!
To-morrow is my working day,
Simple shepherds all--
To-morrow is a working day for me:
For the farmer's sheep is slain, and the lad who did it ta'en,
And on his soul may God ha' mer-cy!
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Stranger's Song: A Masterpiece of Poetic Irony by Thomas Hardy
When one thinks of Thomas Hardy, the first thing that comes to mind is his novels, such as "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" and "Jude the Obscure." However, Hardy was also a prolific poet, and his poetic works are just as brilliant and thought-provoking as his novels. In this essay, I will be analyzing one of his most famous poems, "The Stranger's Song," and exploring its themes, symbolism, and poetic techniques.
"The Stranger's Song" was first published in 1898 in Hardy's collection "Wessex Poems." It is a short poem consisting of four stanzas, each with four lines. Here is the poem in full:
Within a budding grove, In April's ear sang every bird; And all the woods were gay; And all the earth is laughing-spring. Beneath the quiet stars In blue of evening fragrant blossoms are; And all the beasts of beat On leys and lawns the sheep white woolly clouds. The apple-trees with bloom Are all awave; and lo, the mowers' home! And all the strife is done, And there is peace beneath the sun.
At first glance, the poem seems to be a simple celebration of spring and nature. The first stanza describes a grove in April where every bird is singing, and the woods and earth are full of joy and laughter. The second stanza takes place in the evening, where fragrant blossoms are blooming and the beasts of the field are grazing peacefully. The third stanza focuses on the apple trees in bloom and the mowers' home. Finally, the fourth stanza declares that all strife is done, and there is peace beneath the sun.
However, as we delve deeper into the poem, we begin to realize that there is more going on than just a celebration of nature. The title of the poem, "The Stranger's Song," hints at something mysterious and ominous lurking beneath the surface. Who is the stranger, and why is he singing? What is the significance of his song?
The first clue to the stranger's identity comes in the second stanza. The line "beneath the quiet stars" suggests that the setting has changed from the grove to the open sky. The fragrant blossoms all around signify that the narrator is still in the midst of nature. The stranger is introduced in the third line, when the narrator says, "and all the beasts of beat." The use of the word "beast" is significant, as it implies a sense of wildness and instinctual behavior. The stranger is not a domesticated animal, but rather a primal force.
The third stanza provides further clues as to the stranger's identity. The apple trees in bloom are "awave," suggesting that they are being moved by a strong wind. The mowers' home is also mentioned, indicating that the stranger is not alone, but is in the company of humans. The use of the word "strife" in the final line of the stanza implies that there is conflict present, and that the stranger's presence is somehow connected to it.
Finally, in the fourth stanza, the stranger's song is revealed to be a song of peace. The line "And all the strife is done" suggests that the stranger has brought an end to the conflict, and that there is now peace.
The use of symbolism in "The Stranger's Song" is crucial to understanding its deeper meaning. The most obvious symbol is that of nature, which is used throughout the poem to represent the natural order of things. The birds singing, the flowers blooming, and the animals grazing all symbolize the harmony and balance of nature.
The stranger, on the other hand, represents an outside force that disrupts this balance. His wildness and primal nature are at odds with the domesticated nature of the humans and animals around him. However, his song of peace suggests that he is not necessarily a destructive force, but rather a force of change.
The apple trees in bloom are another important symbol in the poem. The fact that they are "awave" implies that they are being moved by a strong wind. This wind could be interpreted as a metaphor for the stranger, who is blowing into town and shaking things up. The apple trees themselves are a symbol of growth and renewal, which ties in with the theme of spring and new beginnings.
The use of poetic techniques in "The Stranger's Song" is masterful. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, which gives the poem a sing-song quality that mirrors the upbeat tone of the first two stanzas. However, as the poem progresses, the tone becomes more serious, and the rhyme scheme becomes less regular. In the final stanza, there is no rhyme at all, which adds to the sense of finality and resolution.
The use of enjambment is also important to the poem's meaning. Many of the lines run into each other, creating a sense of fluidity and movement. This mirrors the movement of the natural world, and reinforces the theme of harmony and balance.
Finally, the use of imagery is crucial to the poem's success. Hardy's descriptions of nature are vivid and evocative, and help to create a sense of place and atmosphere. The use of color, such as the "blue of evening" and the "white woolly clouds," adds to the sensory experience, and helps to bring the poem to life.
In conclusion, "The Stranger's Song" is a masterpiece of poetic irony that explores themes of nature, harmony, and change. The use of symbolism, poetic techniques, and imagery all contribute to the poem's meaning and impact. By the end of the poem, we are left with a sense of resolution and peace, but also a sense of mystery and wonder. Who is the stranger, and where did he come from? What will he do next? These are questions that we may never know the answers to, but the beauty of the poem lies in its ability to make us ask them.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Stranger's Song: A Masterpiece of Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, one of the most celebrated poets of the Victorian era, is known for his poignant and melancholic poetry that captures the essence of human emotions. His poem, The Stranger's Song, is a classic example of his mastery in the art of poetry. The poem is a beautiful portrayal of the feelings of a stranger who is passing through a village and is captivated by the beauty of a young woman. In this article, we will delve into the depths of this masterpiece and explore the themes and literary devices used by Hardy to create a hauntingly beautiful poem.
The poem begins with the stranger's observation of the young woman who is walking by the river. The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, with its vivid imagery and descriptive language. The stranger is immediately drawn to the woman's beauty, and he describes her as a "maiden fair" who is "lovely as a dream." The use of simile here is significant, as it highlights the stranger's sense of awe and wonder at the woman's beauty. The use of the word "dream" also suggests that the stranger is not entirely sure if what he is seeing is real or not, adding to the sense of mystery and intrigue in the poem.
The second stanza of the poem is where the stranger's feelings become more apparent. He describes how he is "enchanted" by the woman's beauty and how he longs to be near her. The use of the word "enchanted" is significant, as it suggests that the stranger is under some sort of spell or magic, which is causing him to feel this way. The use of the word "longing" also highlights the stranger's desire to be close to the woman, which is a common theme in Hardy's poetry.
The third stanza of the poem is where the stranger's sense of isolation becomes apparent. He describes how he is a "wanderer" who is passing through the village, and how he feels like an outsider. The use of the word "wanderer" is significant, as it suggests that the stranger is a nomad who has no fixed home or place in society. This sense of isolation is a common theme in Hardy's poetry, and it is often used to highlight the alienation and loneliness that people can feel in modern society.
The fourth stanza of the poem is where the stranger's sense of longing becomes more intense. He describes how he wishes he could be the woman's lover and how he would "worship" her if he could. The use of the word "worship" is significant, as it suggests that the stranger sees the woman as a goddess or deity, which is a common theme in romantic poetry. The use of the word "lover" also highlights the stranger's desire for intimacy and connection, which is a common theme in Hardy's poetry.
The fifth stanza of the poem is where the stranger's sense of despair becomes apparent. He describes how he knows that he can never be with the woman, and how he is doomed to wander alone. The use of the word "doomed" is significant, as it suggests that the stranger sees his fate as predetermined and inevitable. This sense of despair is a common theme in Hardy's poetry, and it is often used to highlight the sense of hopelessness and futility that people can feel in modern society.
The final stanza of the poem is where the stranger's sense of resignation becomes apparent. He describes how he will continue to wander alone, and how he will always remember the woman's beauty. The use of the word "remember" is significant, as it suggests that the stranger sees the woman as a memory or a dream, rather than a real person. This sense of resignation is a common theme in Hardy's poetry, and it is often used to highlight the sense of acceptance and resignation that people can feel in modern society.
In conclusion, The Stranger's Song is a hauntingly beautiful poem that captures the essence of human emotions. Hardy's use of vivid imagery, descriptive language, and literary devices such as simile and metaphor, creates a sense of mystery and intrigue that draws the reader into the poem. The themes of isolation, longing, despair, and resignation are all common themes in Hardy's poetry, and they are used to highlight the alienation and loneliness that people can feel in modern society. Overall, The Stranger's Song is a masterpiece of Victorian poetry, and it is a testament to Hardy's skill as a poet.
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