'Ditty' by Thomas Hardy

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(E. L. G.)

BENEATH a knap where flown
Nestlings play,
Within walls of weathered stone,
Far away
From the files of formal houses,
By the bough the firstling browses,
Lives a Sweet: no merchants meet,
No man barters, no man sells
Where she dwells.

Upon that fabric fair
"Here is she!"
Seems written everywhere
Unto me.
But to friends and nodding neighbors,
Fellow wights in lot and labors,
Who descry the times as I,
No such lucid legend tells
Where she dwells.

Should I lapse to what I was
In days by--
(Such cannot be, but because
Some loves die
Let me feign it)--none would notice
That where she I know by rote is
Spread a strange and withering change,
Like a drying of the wells
Where she dwells.

To feel I might have kissed--
Loved as true--
Otherwhere, nor Mine have missed
My life through,
Had I never wandered near her,
Is a smart severe--severer
In the thought that she is nought,
Even as I, beyond the dells
Where she dwells.

And Devotion droops her glance
To recall
What bond-servants of Chance
We are all.
I but found her in that, going
On my errant path unknowing,
I did not out-skirt the spot
That no spot on earth excels--
Where she dwells!

Editor 1 Interpretation

"Ditty" by Thomas Hardy: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Thomas Hardy's "Ditty" is a short and simple poem that speaks volumes about love, longing, and the fleeting nature of human emotions. Composed of only eight stanzas, each consisting of two rhyming couplets, the poem is a beautifully crafted piece of art that showcases Hardy's mastery of language and his deep understanding of human psychology.

In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve into the themes, symbolism, and literary techniques used by Hardy in "Ditty" to explore its deeper meanings and significance.


At its core, "Ditty" is a poem about love and longing. The speaker of the poem is deeply in love with a woman who is far away from him, and he expresses his feelings through a series of metaphors and similes that evoke the beauty and fragility of their relationship.

The poem also touches on themes of time, mortality, and the transience of human emotions. The speaker is acutely aware of the fleeting nature of their love, and he laments the fact that it will not last forever. He also acknowledges his own mortality and the fact that death will eventually separate him from his beloved.


One of the most striking aspects of "Ditty" is the rich symbolism that Hardy employs to convey his message. The poem is rife with metaphors and similes that evoke the beauty and fragility of the speaker's relationship with his beloved.

For example, in the first stanza, the speaker compares his love to a flower that blooms in the springtime:

When I came forth this morn I saw
A lovely primrose near the way
Aslant a sunny bank;
With smiling face it seemed to say:
"Good day, good sir!" and would have fain
Hailed me its kindly way.

Here, the primrose represents the speaker's beloved, whose beauty and grace illuminate his world like a ray of sunshine. The fact that it is a spring flower also suggests that the speaker's love is still in its early stages and has not yet fully matured.

In the third stanza, the speaker uses another flower metaphor to describe the fleeting nature of their love:

But when I strolled home full of cheer,
A serious thought fell on me there,
And softly whispered this:
"The thing that made thy heart to stir
Shall pass, and time will make it blur
Like any common kiss."

Here, the flower represents the transience of human emotions, which are as fragile and fleeting as the petals of a flower. The speaker realizes that their love will eventually fade away and be forgotten, just like any other passing fancy.

Literary Techniques

Hardy's use of various literary techniques in "Ditty" is what makes the poem so powerful and evocative. One of the most notable techniques he employs is alliteration, which is the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words.

For example, in the second stanza, the speaker uses alliteration to describe the beauty of his beloved:

Her hair it shone as gold as mine;
Down to her feet it reached full long,
And waving as the waves of corn.

Here, the repetition of the "h" sound in "hair," "shone," and "reached" creates a musical quality that echoes the beauty and grace of the speaker's beloved.

Another literary technique that Hardy employs in "Ditty" is personification, which is the attribution of human qualities to inanimate objects or abstract concepts. For example, in the fourth stanza, the speaker personifies time as a cruel and relentless force that will eventually destroy their love:

And though the sweetest joys may cloy
The heart that beats beneath the breast,
I'll think of thee and only thee,
Who hath my heart, as time hath thee,
And all that love doth claim,
And every human ecstasy,
And all ambitions under sun
Will have their day, and cease to be,
And thou and I will be undone,
And even memory.

Here, time is personified as a malevolent force that will eventually destroy everything the speaker holds dear, including his love for his beloved. This personification adds a sense of urgency and desperation to the poem, as the speaker realizes that their time together is limited and precious.


In conclusion, "Ditty" is a beautifully crafted poem that speaks to the universal themes of love, longing, and the fleeting nature of human emotions. Through his use of rich symbolism, evocative imagery, and powerful literary techniques, Hardy creates a poignant and memorable work of art that will stay with the reader long after they have finished reading it. Whether read as a meditation on love and mortality or a celebration of the beauty and fragility of life, "Ditty" is a masterpiece of English literature that deserves to be read and appreciated by generations to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Thomas Hardy's "Poetry Ditty" is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. It is a short and sweet poem that captures the essence of poetry in just a few lines. In this analysis, we will take a closer look at the poem and explore its meaning, themes, and literary devices.

The poem begins with the line, "Poetry is the supreme fiction." This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem and establishes the idea that poetry is not just a form of writing, but a form of art that transcends reality. The word "supreme" suggests that poetry is the highest form of fiction, and the word "fiction" implies that poetry is not necessarily true, but rather a representation of reality.

The next line, "madame," is a term of respect and suggests that the speaker is addressing someone of importance. This could be interpreted as the speaker addressing poetry itself, or perhaps a person who embodies the spirit of poetry.

The third line, "and from the nave build haunted heaven," is a bit more difficult to decipher. The word "nave" refers to the central part of a church, and the phrase "build haunted heaven" suggests that poetry has the power to create a world that is both beautiful and haunting. This line could be interpreted as a metaphor for the way that poetry can transport us to another world, one that is both familiar and unfamiliar.

The fourth line, "Thus, in imagination, I have dallied with the idea," suggests that the speaker has been playing with the idea of poetry and its power to create a world of its own. The word "dallied" implies that the speaker has been toying with this idea, perhaps not taking it too seriously.

The final line, "And formed therein a semblance of thy face," is the most powerful line in the poem. The word "semblance" suggests that the speaker has created a representation of something, rather than the thing itself. The fact that the speaker has formed a semblance of "thy face" suggests that poetry has the power to create something that is both real and unreal at the same time.

One of the themes of the poem is the power of imagination. The speaker is able to create a world of his own through his imagination, and this world is just as real to him as the world around him. This theme is reinforced by the use of the word "imagination" in the poem, as well as the phrase "in imagination" in the fourth line.

Another theme of the poem is the idea that poetry is a form of art that transcends reality. The phrase "supreme fiction" suggests that poetry is not just a representation of reality, but something that is greater than reality. This theme is reinforced by the use of the phrase "build haunted heaven," which suggests that poetry has the power to create a world that is both beautiful and haunting.

The poem also makes use of several literary devices. The use of alliteration in the phrase "supreme fiction" creates a sense of rhythm and musicality in the poem. The use of the word "madame" in the second line creates a sense of respect and reverence for poetry. The use of the phrase "build haunted heaven" creates a sense of mystery and intrigue in the poem.

In conclusion, Thomas Hardy's "Poetry Ditty" is a powerful poem that captures the essence of poetry in just a few lines. The poem explores the themes of imagination and the power of poetry to create a world of its own. The poem also makes use of several literary devices, including alliteration and metaphor. Overall, "Poetry Ditty" is a classic poem that continues to inspire and captivate readers today.

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