Re: Thomas Hardy
The poem begins with a lyrical, effervescent flowing rhythm, �Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me/saying that now you are not as you were�, as the enjambment and personal pronouns reflect the flowing, passionate romanticism that Hardy is trying to convey. However the structure of the poem is a diminuendo- as the happiness and love of the relationship is lost to � wan wistleness� and the �wet mead�, to the point that Hardy regresses into the elegiac reference to he �wanderer� with �Thus I�, and the final bitter indictment of �the woman calling � reveals how their relationship regressed from one flowing love and �air blue gowns� to �listleness� and the stumbling rhythm of the �leaves around me falling�
It�s about his refusal to accept the death of his wife. He is so caught up in his desire or her still that he almost thinks he can hear her voice talking to him.
Hardy�s last stanza is much shorter in its composition to the previous three stanzas and is his attempt to regain order in his life by moving on �faltering forward�. The difficulty Hardy feels in doing so is mirrored in the arrangement of punctuation- by placing a semi colon immediately after �Thus I� the phrase �faltering forward� is stressed. This combined with its use of alliteration alerts the reader to how significant the phrase is. It is Hardy�s attempt to accept the inevitability of death and move on with life.
This poem is in the form of a 1st person narrative as Hardy contemplates whether he can hear his dead wife�s voice or not. The poem has 4 stanzas; first 3 are in the form of anapestic metre. This conveys his initial hope, as he believes he can hear Emma�s voice. However Hardy soon comes to term with her death. The most poignant line of the poem is � even in the original air blue gown� i.e. hardy has powerful dillusions of Emma when she was youthful and full of radiance and beauty. This could also be seen as hardy seeing a phantom or specter who he believes to be his wife.
The last line �and the woman calling� relates how hardy still reminisces Emma when he first met her and how these memories are still following him despite the shift in time. The memory of her is haunting him �and that he is totally falling apart.
The last stanza however is less fluent and almost chaotic in terms of the use of pathetic fallacy, �leaves faltering forward�. This reflects on Hardy�s mood and decision that he must move forward and Emma�s voice is imaginary. Subsequently conveying his desolation at the end of the poem. This contrasts to the beginning of the poem which is optimistic.
Hardy wrote this poem due to the guilt of not taking care of Emma when she was sick. They both had an estranged relationship. In the poem he uses different poetry techniques to help the reader understand things easily, like alliteration, sibilance, repetition etc.
Hardy is coming to terms with Emma�s death. He is obviously somewhat lost without her and his grieving has left him with memories that appear to play tricks on his mind. They loved each other but it was a destructive love; perhaps the most powerful kind. Maybe the wind was to blow that pain away or was it a part of the force of destructive that was their relationship.
The last stanza is chaotic. The wind has blown it all apart. The repetitive vowel sounds, however, create some unity as the link each word together. The words merge. They become the wind; they become the echoing voice.
Hardy and Emma were separated at the time of her sudden unexpected death. He wrote several poems which reflect the stages of grief he is experiencing and this is largely believed to be the poem he wrote at the point of recovery.
Critics have suggested that the voice could be calling him to death and hardy is contemplating suicide, before recovering.
In the last stanza he realizes that he can�t go on seeing his wife in places she doesn�t exist. She is dead and although he will always think of her he can�t change the terms on which they parted and he feels alone and depressed.