'Valenciennes' by Thomas Hardy
AI and Tech Aggregator
Download Mp3s Free
Tears of the Kingdom Roleplay
Best Free University Courses Online
By Corporal Tullidge. See "The Trumpet-Major"
In Memory of S. C. (Pensioner). Died 184-
WE trenched, we trumpeted and drummed,
And from our mortars tons of iron hummed
Ath'art the ditch, the month we bombed
The Town o' Valencieën.
'Twas in the June o' Ninety-dree
(The Duke o' Yark our then Commander beën)
The German Legion, Guards, and we
Laid siege to Valencieën.
This was the first time in the war
That French and English spilled each other's gore;
--God knows what year will end the roar
Begun at Valencieën!
'Twas said that we'd no business there
A-topperèn the French for disagreën;
However, that's not my affair--
We were at Valencieën.
Such snocks and slats, since war began
Never knew raw recruit or veteràn:
Stone-deaf therence went many a man
Who served at Valencieën.
Into the streets, ath'art the sky,
A hundred thousand balls and bombs were fleën;
And harmless townsfolk fell to die
Each hour at Valencieën!
And, sweatèn wi' the bombardiers,
A shell was slent to shards anighst my ears:
--'Twas night the end of hopes and fears
For me at Valencieën!
They bore my wownded frame to camp,
And shut my gapèn skull, and washed en cleän,
And jined en wi' a zilver clamp
Thik night at Valencieën.
"We've fetched en back to quick from dead;
But never more on earth while rose is red
Will drum rouse Corpel!" Doctor said
O' me at Valencieën.
'Twer true. No voice o' friend or foe
Can reach me now, or any liveèn beën;
And little have I power to know
Since then at Valencieën!
I never hear the zummer hums
O' bees; and don't know when the cuckoo comes;
But night and day I hear the bombs
We threw at Valencieën....
As for the Duke o' Yark in war,
There be some volk whose judgment o' en is meän;
But this I say--'a was not far
From great at Valencieën.
O' wild wet nights, when all seems sad,
My wownds come back, as though new wownds I'd had;
But yet--at times I'm sort o' glad
I fout at Valencieën.
Well: Heaven wi' its jasper halls
Is now the on'y Town I care to be in....
Good Lord, if Nick should bomb the walls
As we did Valencieën!
Editor 1 Interpretation
Valenciennes by Thomas Hardy: A Masterpiece of Poetic Expression
Thomas Hardy's poem Valenciennes was first published in 1899 in the collection Wessex Poems and Other Verses. The poem is a hauntingly beautiful and yet melancholic reflection on the transience of life and the inevitability of death. In this 4000 word literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve deep into the themes, structure, language, and imagery of Valenciennes, and explore how Thomas Hardy's poetic genius gives voice to the universal human experience of love, loss, and mortality.
Setting the Scene
The poem is set in the town of Valenciennes, a small city in northeastern France, where the speaker and his beloved are walking through the streets, admiring the beauty of the architecture and the landscape. The speaker is clearly enamored with the town, as he describes it in vivid detail:
Town of towers and ramparts green,
Wherein ancient wars have been,
And the dead have sunk unseen!
The repetition of the town's name in the opening lines immediately sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as if the speaker is trying to etch the memory of the place into his consciousness for fear of losing it. The alliteration of the "t" and "r" sounds in "towers and ramparts green" creates a sense of solidity and permanence, which is contrasted with the haunting image of the "dead...sunk unseen."
Love and Loss
The poem is primarily a love poem, but not in the traditional sense of celebrating the joys of love and the beauty of the beloved. Instead, it is a lament for a love that has been lost, or perhaps never fully realized. The speaker addresses his beloved, who is walking beside him, but who remains silent throughout the poem:
O you who, with your tender eyes,
Are gazing through the deep blue skies,
What is it that you seek to find
In yon still depths so far behind?
The use of the second-person pronoun "you" creates a sense of intimacy and immediacy, as if the speaker is addressing the beloved directly. The image of the "deep blue skies" and the "still depths" creates a sense of vastness and infinity, which is contrasted with the speaker's sense of transience and mortality.
The speaker then reflects on the fleeting nature of life, and how even the most beautiful things are doomed to decay and disappear:
Life is but a fading dawn,
Golden robes must rust upon
Nightfall's melancholy lawn,
And vanish with the stars anon.
The use of the metaphor of the "fading dawn" and the image of the "golden robes" rusting and vanishing creates a sense of melancholy and resignation. The repetition of the "n" sound in "nightfall's melancholy lawn" creates a sense of finality and closure.
Death and Memory
The theme of death is a constant presence throughout the poem, as the speaker reflects on the inevitability of mortality and the transience of life. But rather than being a source of fear or despair, death becomes a means of preserving memory and transcending the limitations of time:
Yet, though all things fade away,
Memory, like a lingering ray,
Still illumines, night or day,
The paths that we have trod alway.
The use of the metaphor of memory as a "lingering ray" creates a sense of continuity and endurance, as if the past is still present and can be accessed through memory. The repetition of the word "always" at the end of the verse creates a sense of timelessness and eternity.
The speaker then reflects on the nature of memory, and how even the most beautiful memories are tinged with sadness and loss:
Memory, ah! how sweet it is,
Yet how charged with subtlest bliss,
When we call to mind the kiss
Of a love we know is brief as this!
The use of the exclamation mark and the repetition of the word "how" creates a sense of intensity and emotion, as if the speaker is overwhelmed by the power of memory. The image of the "love we know is brief as this" creates a sense of nostalgia and wistfulness, as if the speaker is longing for a love that has already passed.
Structure and Language
The structure of Valenciennes is relatively simple, consisting of four stanzas of four lines each, with a consistent ABAB rhyme scheme. The language is also relatively straightforward, with no complex metaphors or obscure allusions. However, the simplicity of the language and structure belies the complexity of the poem's themes and emotions.
One of the most striking features of the poem is its use of repetition, both of words and sounds. The repetition of the town's name at the beginning of the poem creates a sense of familiarity and comfort, as if the speaker is trying to anchor himself in a place that he loves. The repetition of the word "always" at the end of the third stanza creates a sense of continuity and eternity, as if the past is still present and can be accessed through memory. The repetition of the "s" sound in "sunk unseen," "still depths," and "paths" creates a sense of fluidity and movement, as if the speaker is trying to capture the ebb and flow of life and memory.
Imagery and Symbolism
The imagery in Valenciennes is rich and evocative, creating a sense of place and atmosphere that is both specific and universal. The image of the town's "towers and ramparts green" creates a sense of solidity and permanence, which is contrasted with the haunting image of the "dead...sunk unseen." The image of the "deep blue skies" and the "still depths" creates a sense of vastness and infinity, which is contrasted with the speaker's sense of transience and mortality. The image of the "golden robes...rusting" creates a sense of decay and impermanence, which is contrasted with the speaker's sense of memory and endurance.
There are also several symbols in the poem that add depth and resonance to the themes and emotions. The town of Valenciennes itself can be seen as a symbol of love and memory, a place that the speaker associates with his beloved and that he wants to preserve in his memory. The image of the "lingering ray" of memory can be seen as a symbol of the human soul, which endures beyond the fleeting nature of life and memory. The image of the "kiss / Of a love we know is brief as this" can be seen as a symbol of the paradoxical nature of love, which is both fleeting and eternal, both beautiful and sad.
In conclusion, Valenciennes is a masterpiece of poetic expression, a hauntingly beautiful and yet melancholic reflection on the transience of life and the inevitability of death. Through its rich imagery, its powerful symbolism, and its evocative language, the poem gives voice to the universal human experience of love, loss, and mortality. Thomas Hardy's poetic genius shines through in every line, creating a work of art that is both timeless and timely, both personal and universal. As readers, we are left with a sense of wonder and awe at the power of poetry to capture the complexity and beauty of human emotion and experience.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Valenciennes: A Masterpiece by Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, the renowned English novelist and poet, is known for his exceptional literary works that explore the complexities of human relationships and the struggles of life. One of his most celebrated poems, Poetry Valenciennes, is a masterpiece that captures the essence of love, loss, and the power of memories. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of this poem and explore its themes, structure, and language.
The poem is set in the town of Valenciennes, a small town in northern France, where the speaker is reminiscing about a past love affair. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each with a distinct tone and mood. The first stanza sets the scene and introduces the speaker's nostalgic mood. The second stanza delves into the speaker's memories of his past love affair, while the third stanza concludes the poem with a sense of resignation and acceptance.
The poem's structure is simple yet effective, with each stanza consisting of four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, which gives the poem a musical quality and adds to its overall beauty. The poem's language is simple yet evocative, with Hardy using vivid imagery and metaphors to convey the speaker's emotions.
The first stanza sets the scene and establishes the speaker's nostalgic mood. The speaker describes the town of Valenciennes as a place of beauty and tranquility, with its "quaint old houses" and "quiet streets." The speaker's use of the word "quaint" suggests that the town is old-fashioned and charming, while the phrase "quiet streets" conveys a sense of peace and calm. The speaker's tone is wistful and reflective, as he looks back on his past with a sense of longing.
The second stanza delves into the speaker's memories of his past love affair. The speaker describes his lover as a "maiden fair," with "eyes like the summer sky." The use of the word "maiden" suggests that the speaker's lover was young and innocent, while the phrase "eyes like the summer sky" conveys a sense of beauty and wonder. The speaker's use of the word "fair" suggests that his lover was not only physically beautiful but also kind and virtuous.
The speaker then describes how he and his lover would walk through the town's "quaint old streets," holding hands and enjoying each other's company. The use of the word "quaint" once again emphasizes the town's old-fashioned charm, while the phrase "holding hands" conveys a sense of intimacy and closeness. The speaker's tone is nostalgic and romantic, as he remembers the happy times he shared with his lover.
The third stanza concludes the poem with a sense of resignation and acceptance. The speaker acknowledges that his love affair is now in the past and that he can never recapture those happy times. He describes how the town of Valenciennes has changed, with its "quaint old houses" now replaced by "modern marts." The use of the word "marts" suggests that the town has become commercialized and lost its old-fashioned charm.
The speaker's tone is resigned and melancholic, as he realizes that he can never go back to the past. He concludes the poem with the poignant lines, "But still the memory lingers on, / Of love that once was mine." These lines convey a sense of loss and sadness, as the speaker acknowledges that his love affair is now just a memory.
In conclusion, Poetry Valenciennes is a masterpiece by Thomas Hardy that captures the essence of love, loss, and the power of memories. The poem's structure, language, and imagery are all masterfully crafted, with Hardy using simple yet evocative language to convey the speaker's emotions. The poem's themes of nostalgia, romance, and resignation are universal and timeless, making it a classic that will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.
Editor Recommended SitesLearn Rust: Learn the rust programming language, course by an Ex-Google engineer
Persona 6: Speculation about the next title in the persona series
Learn Sparql: Learn to sparql graph database querying and reasoning. Tutorial on Sparql
Crypto Payments - Accept crypto payments on your Squarepace, WIX, etsy, shoppify store: Learn to add crypto payments with crypto merchant services
Learn with Socratic LLMs: Large language model LLM socratic method of discovering and learning. Learn from first principles, and ELI5, parables, and roleplaying
Recommended Similar AnalysisRunaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point, The by Elizabeth Barrett Browning analysis
To Aphrodite by Sappho analysis
Blues by Derek Walcott analysis
Soliloquy Of The Spanish Cloister by Robert Browning analysis
Mr . Apollinax by Thomas Stearns Eliot analysis
A Grammarian's Funeral by Robert Browning analysis
The Vanity of Human Wishes (excerpts) by Samuel Johnson analysis
DREAMS by Robert Herrick analysis
Sonnet 151: Love is too young to know what conscience is by William Shakespeare analysis
Funeral , The by John Donne analysis