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In Time Of "The Breaking Of Nations" Analysis

Author: poem of Thomas Hardy Type: poem Views: 32

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Only a man harrowing clods

In a slow silent walk

With an old horse that stumbles and nods

Half asleep as they stalk.


Only thin smoke without flame

From the heaps of couch-grass;

Yet this will go onwards the same

Though Dynasties pass.


Yonder a maid and her wight

Go whispering by:

War's annals will cloud into night

Ere their story die.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: analysis :.

Hardy consistantly condemned war throughout his career as a poet, labelling it both futile and wasteful of life.
However, this poem goes one step further than to merely condemn the subject. Hardy was always a meliorist, and this poem is a fine example of his belief that man can overcome the evils of war.
The poem is divided into three sections, each illustrating a different facet of a soceity and a way of life that has continued for thousands of years, despite the coming and going of different dynasties and political parties. The first depicts a simple ploughman, lazily ploughing his field with his old, seemingly immovable horse. He, the farmer, represents sustinance.
The second is an image of a compost heap silently burning, a visual metaphor for the cycle of life, and nature's rebirth.
The third shows the lovers, the 'maid and her wight.' These represent human procreation and the cycle of life, as well as the human capacity for compassion and deeper emotion.
Together, these combine create the picture of persistant life, a timeless and eternal tradition, continuing despite the passing of dynasties and the impact of war. Note the archaic language used to illustrate this point; 'wight,' 'ere.'
Essentially Hardy is commenting that life, in its most basic form, will continue as it has done despite the impact of war and other human scourges.
However, there can also class and soceital comments read into the poem. Hardy is showing the simple real life of the lower classes, the true 'Wessex' types, to be much more lasting than the upper class quarrels and political struggles that dictate war and the passing of dynasties, thus endorsing the simple rural values that the modern world threatens to erode.
However, there is, as always, a faith that human life and love will prevail.

| Posted on 2008-04-02 | by a guest

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