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Neutral Tones Analysis

Author: Poetry of Thomas Hardy Type: Poetry Views: 3881

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WE stood by a pond that winter day,

And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,

And a few leaves lay on the starving sod,

--They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.

Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove

Over tedious riddles solved years ago;

And some words played between us to and fro--

On which lost the more by our love.

The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing

Alive enough to have strength to die;

And a grin of bitterness swept thereby

Like an ominous bird a-wing....

Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,

And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me

Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree,

And a pond edged with grayish leaves.


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

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| Posted on 2017-06-08 | by a guest

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this looks like you nan had a shit with your dad then done them up the ass with the pet dog.

| Posted on 2015-09-23 | by a guest

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And wot m8, dis poem is oviasoly abot hardy affair he had wiv his cosin Mary, dis poem is about how much he loved Mary and it make him cry every time he see her.

| Posted on 2014-01-17 | by a guest

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jangeer is a lun kusme
A man is reflecting on the last time he spoke with his former lover.
connotation does ash have (line 4) that oak or maple would lack:
burnt or spent
example of simile in line eleven-twelve
What visible object(s) in the poem function(s) symbolically?
The white sun, the ash tree and the pond.
With the last stanza of the poem the author is suggesting that the protagonist of the poem is what?
Cynical about love.

| Posted on 2013-02-01 | by a guest

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| Posted on 2013-01-29 | by a guest

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There is a common theme with Rushy Pond and Neutral Tones u dont make sense fam come chilax roll deep get money den i go sleep and knowing of the relationship break-up between Hardy and Tryphena Sparks both these poems fit the theme that these are two lovers set apart, basically by rules beyond their control, meeting at a special place in their relationship.

| Posted on 2013-01-28 | by a guest

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wag 1 fam tata bro u look dank bro kusmeh u kn wwam\" hold tight jangeer lazy khanNeutral Tones\" by Thomas Hardy is very neutral in tone;[2] its melancholic note is created by a narrator reflecting on the termination of a relationship. Throughout, a soothing yet depressing language illustrates this duality. Hardy uses a variety of techniques to highlight sadness and emotions in the narrator.

| Posted on 2013-01-28 | by a guest

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this poem was crap bro, kusmeh ma gran wudve done better
I thought the phrase \'riddles solved long ago\' could refer to how well they know each other and how the loss of any enigmatic quality has caused them to become tired and boring, in the same way that a riddle that you know the answer to is not interesting any more

| Posted on 2013-01-28 | by a guest

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hi people what\'s up!I know the poem is quite cool and that I love this poem of hardy.the analysis you guys have done are great and were extremely useful.thnx

| Posted on 2012-12-01 | by a guest

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Thomas Hardy has left this poemfor his readers to interpret in many different angles and perspectives due to its \'Neutral Tones\'. Therefore, the idea of bringing together many interpreations as one could in fact bring the poem alive, as it is already seen \'dead\'. However, the fact that it is called Neutral Tones could perhaps suggest that Hardy was going through a point in his life where he felt a decline in everything. This is because he mentions love, religion, life and tries to signify that life itself is ongoing, and things come and go in life, but you have to accept it even though as hard as it may seem to accept, God has given us life , but to him it feels as if he sees life as dead. Another interpretation of this poem could also be that Hardy is referring to the afterlife, the Hereafter, because he was quite religious from a young age, and quite afew monotheistic religions beleive that life after death is ongoing, because your either in Heaven or Hell, but the life is forever, where this life is as if we are dead, and we are to wake up to the heareafter. This is evident in the last stanza, the last line \' And a Pond edged with Greyish leaves\', because it shows how death and the hereafter is inevitable, but it seems that Hardy is perhaps questioning God\'s reason for this, because the fact that he writes \'greyish\' portrays again the neutral vibe the poem gives us. Lastly, in the first stanza, Hardy writes \'the sun was white\', which lathough some could interpet as lifeless, could infact mean that when you stare at the sun, all you see is white light and it blinds your eye, and could refer again to destiny and the presence of God, and could show that this means there is an hereafter, in contrast to \'ash\' and \'grey\' because that shows the deadness and the shortness of this life, and the sun itself is circular, but we are blind to it in real;ity, because in pictures, the sun is round, but when we look at it is hard to tell the shape due to its blinding quality and iuts brightness...maybe that is the light of God....but Hardy could be questioning religion and God\'s test he gives to people in this life...

| Posted on 2011-08-17 | by a guest

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Neutral Tones suggests an exploration of the slow ending of relationship.Hardy is very accepting of the decline, yet also regretful. The emotional intensity of the poem doesn\'t come from any particularly emotive language, but in fact the lack of it, the detachment plaguing the speakers attitude seems to be the most shocking aspect of the poem.
The poem semms to be preparing for an end through the weather (\"winter day\"), the setting (\"starving sod\"), the dull lexis choices (\"stood\", \"gray\") and the monotmous rhythm.
The poem arguably gives the reader a sense of the spiraling nature of the relationship. The abba rhyme scheme ends each of the four stanzas on the same rhyme they started on. The words \"gray\", \"pond\" and \"God\" are repeated from the first stanza to the last stanza giving \'Neutral Tones\' a circlic quality.
Hardy uses shocking meataphor and imagery to symbolises the decline of the described relationship. He desicribes her smile as \"the deadest thing/ alive enough to have the strength to die\" as if there is no way to defy the descent.

| Posted on 2011-05-22 | by a guest

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The opening scene is drained of colour. No colour in his life, no love in his life.

| Posted on 2011-01-30 | by a guest

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i think this poem is influential in various ways and also ver emotive. Also i find the uderstanding of the peom very sophisticated

| Posted on 2011-01-26 | by a guest

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An alternative perspective on this poem could be that Neutral Tones is actually a poem about God and the loss of faith some people experinced as around this period Charles Darwin released his theory on natural evolution. The ash tree refered to in the first stanza could be seen as a representation of God as an ash tree\'s definition is that which is huge in size with especially strong roots which can be seen as a reflection of God. The leaves which lay on the ground around the ash could be humankind as we are the product of God as leaves are the product of a tree. In the second stanze \'over tedious riddles of years ago\' could be the biblical teachings collected in the bible and also Jesus\' preachings himself. But the fact that they are tedious sums up the fact that mankind has had anough of being lied to and manipulated by religion. In the third stanza Hardy writes \'alive anough to have strength to die\' which is in my opinion a perfect description of the sacrifice Jesus made for mankind but then the fact that Hardy says \'a grin of bitterness\' twists the sacrifice and makes the reader wonder whether to wasnt just all an act/ facade. Finally the last stanza refers to \'keen lessons that love decieves\' perhaps saying that Man should look closer at religion as it might not be what we actaully thought it was.
I prefer this reading to the typical more common reading that the poem is about the breakdown of a relationship and that the speaker is reminiscing the past which anticipated the demise of thier relationship.

| Posted on 2010-12-24 | by a guest

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Thomas Hardy’s poem “Neutral Tones,” is an astounding inner conveyance of a relationship on the brink of fate, dramatizing the issues that two lovers face when love holds no more zest or familiarity. This poem is not by any means an expression of a fictional character, but rather a personal re-collection of the fallout that Thomas Hardy himself experiences. Though this is one of his earlier poems, he cleverly wields the addition of allusion, various themes, symbolism and strong imagery to effectively illustrate the lingering conflict. There is no definite claim as to who the woman featured in this early poem actually is. “One of his favourite ploys was to prolong the reader’s ignorance, not just of facts, but of identities.” (Turner, 3) The relationship that the speaker alludes to, is thought to be that shared with Eliza Nicholls, a woman he re-united with when he was visiting London for the first time. The two initially met in 1863, and after a long period away from each other come to realize they have been estranged and brought to a point of bitterness. Projections of hostility, sorrowful regret and reminiscence resound throughout the poem, and are often present in his earlier poetic work. Within the poem there is a continual allusion to how the inconsistent communication between the couple led to Hardy’s observational assumptions. Though the poem is rather neutral, it can be appraised for the fact that there is still a deep emotion existing, but at that time, lies lost somewhere between the two subjects. Winter and the lack of color in the world around them, especially in the first stanza, are also chosen as part of the setting because it truly reflects upon the cold and dull changes that their ever deteriorating love has presented. In ‘Neutral Tones’, “A various mixture of iambs and anapaests builds a powerfully dulled monotone” (Paulin, 71). The reader can almost hear the melodramatic voice of Hardy, with only slight hints of disgust and spite. Rather, the melancholy monologue carries on in a dull and withdrawn manner, only supporting the neutrality of the speaker. Hardy’s association with various women throughout his life and the pain and joys he endured is without a doubt what drove him to his elevated status of poetic brilliance. “Like most men, perhaps, he evidently needed some such relationship to stimulate his creativity” (Turner, 3). This dramatic monologue consisting of four tetrameter quatrains expresses themes of love and life and their interconnection, while simultaneously emphasizing death. Hardy not only shows the flaws of his personal relationship with the woman by using various means of imagery, but also ends the poem with a defeated melancholic conclusion of his impression of love.
In the first stanza, the poem begins with Thomas Hardy as the speaker and he makes no hesitance in establishing the scene to compliment the imagery which follows. “We stood by a pond that winter day” (1, 1). Though winter can be a wonderland, within the contexts of this poem, winter paints the bleak theme of death and season change. The poem carries on the same tone throughout, but the mood is inevitably altered from stanza to stanza. With winter comes the death of many living things in the natural world. Hardy signals this more and more as the poem goes on and makes a connection between the love a person has and how it affects their life. When a person feels no loving grace or the comfort of a heart in beat with his own, he tends to see the world through a warped lens. Hardy witnesses the sun as being “white, as though chidden of God” (1, 2). In this, the bitterness and tone that is emphasized throughout the poem is projected as guilt upon the Almighty. It seems Hardy feels that just as God could allow the sun to shine in its full splendorous yellow—but has instead replaced it with a gloomy hue of white; his relationship with this woman is also cursed by a divine intervention. The tone is crucial in understanding it and is not hard to spot within the poem. The reserved tone supports the lack of passion that Hardy and the woman express. The leaves which “had fallen from an ash, and were gray” (1, 4), is symbolic of the way in which they too had fallen out of love. It is such a clever choice for Hardy to have included the ash tree within the poem. “The bark of this tree is of a silvery-gray color, and indeed, the color of ashes themselves is gray, a decidedly \"neutral tone\" (Senior, 219). If the leaves are themselves symbolic of the couple then an image is painted of the two holding on to a life source that no longer has anything in store for them. They are seen as “Clinging to the tree, the leaves have now withered and died, with no possible fate remaining other than to rot or be trampled underfoot” (Senior, 218). The fact that in the line before he mentions the “few leaves lay on the starving sod” (1, 3) leads the reader to believe that the season of love had long since been gone, and the two lovers had prolonged what should have been dead a long time ago. For it is well known, fall is the season in which most things initially die. At one time, the tree that blossomed and was bountiful in life supported the leaves that hung from its delicate branches, but now has been stripped of leaves. The paralleling connections between life and love are recognized here since the couple had once had the support of their environment (the tree) but now they have been broken off and the whole winter scene only emphasizes the imminent death. They had been withered for so long and yet been blind to it, but Hardy comes to terms in this first stanza when he concludes that the leaves were “gray” (1, 4). What is considerable to note is that the whole environment that Hardy creates is able to “fuse with feeling” (Paulin, 163) and thus makes the poem even more effective.
In the second stanza the tone carries forward, but focuses less on the conditions of the nature around them and rather narrows down to the cold bitterness between them, particularly that of the woman. The statement, “Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove” (2, 5), expresses that it does not go unnoticed by Hardy that the woman looks him up and down with wandering eyes. It projects the image of her searching every part of him, looking for something that had once captivated her, but now she finds nothing of interest in him. Perhaps the way her eyes rove also reflects the shallowness of her sight since there is no reference to her ability to look into him. The next line discusses the lack of excitement that exists. Hardy seems to recognize the shade of ice that has built up in their midst and their inability to strike any spark inside each other to melt it. The image projected is that of a “...man and woman, searching for answers to riddles tedious because so often repeated, as their lips discuss the related question: ‘which lost the more by our love’”(Clements & Grindle, 184). The phrase “And some words played between us to and fro—“(2, 7), basically is understood as words spoken between them almost effortlessly were uttered as though in “play.” The mood of the line gives the reader reason to obtain the impression that the words spoken were shallow and had a scattered effect on their brain, as though they could no longer grip them in confidence. The amazing element about Hardy’s poetry is that though for the most part this poem contains a simple rhyme scheme and even the words that rhyme are bland, he still manages to create a consistent and alluring interest in his readers. “Hardy can produce effects of strangeness even from ordinary and unambiguous words. Sometimes he does this by inverted or syntactically peculiar phrases...” (Clements & Grindle, 7). An example within “Neutral Tones” is when he reflects “On which lost the more by our love” (2, 8). This line seems to make little sense at first glance being

| Posted on 2010-12-01 | by a guest

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There is a common theme with Rushy Pond and Neutral Tones and knowing of the relationship break-up between Hardy and Tryphena Sparks both these poems fit the theme that these are two lovers set apart, basically by rules beyond their control, meeting at a special place in their relationship.

| Posted on 2010-10-20 | by a guest

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Hardy uses various methods to tell the story in ‘Neutral Tones’ which is written in the form of a poem. ‘Neutral Tones’ tells the story of disappointment in love and life between two lovers and focuses on a theme of death.
The setting of the poem is on a “winter day” this is significantly important as Hardy uses this to convey a sense of sadness, the “winter” perhaps a metaphor for the frosty nature of the relationship. This negativity is emphasised because it appears so early in the poem; the first line. This sets a bitter tone for the first stanza which intensifies as the emotive language becomes more blatant. In the first stanza Hardy uses the word “chidden”, whereas “curst” is used for the same purpose in the final stanza which is an obvious shift between mild and harsh language. This perhaps shows Hardy losing his temper because of his emotional connection with the theme of the poem.
Hardy uses the colour imagery of “white” which could suggest a lonely mood despite the two characters being in a relationship of sorts; this is because of how belligerent the characters are towards each other. Hardy uses just the one colour and only uses it once because of this the meaning is emphasised.
Hardy uses an oxymoron in the first line of the third stanza, describing a “smile”, a facial gesture usually associated with happiness, as the “deadest thing”. This highlights the theme of death and also provokes emotion from the reader because of the casual manner the gesture is depicted in which reminds the reader of the poems bitterness. However, this oxymoronic metaphor continues after having left a strong impression on the reader; it is now described as only “Alive enough to have strength to die” which further illustrates Hardy’s aggression. Hardy’s use of this expressive language in the third stanza might have the objective of making the reader feel discouraged which is a possible destination emotionally.
Structurally ‘Neutral Tones’ is a short poem arraigned in four tetrameter quatrains. The four stanzas of the poem might relate to the four seasons of the year as there is a strong theme of nature throughout the poem.
Also in the actual poem the correct line is \"over tedious riddles of years ago\" there is no mention of solving

| Posted on 2010-09-19 | by a guest

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'Neutral Tones' is exceedingly representitive of Thomas Hardy's emotions towards destiny and mental anguish. In the first stanza he relates to the sun (usually representing happiness and colour) as "the sun was white". This conveys the sun as a lifeless and depressing object. Perhaps it is a metaphor for himself before the death of his relationship. Also the sun and pond is circular, showing there is no escape and is going to be never ending.
In the final stanza Hardy refers to the sun as "the God-curst sun". This portrays a change in emotions. His language changes to one of anger, rather than neutral and soothing. The reader here gets the feeling that his anger has a religious reference, implying that his loss is down to destiny ('god'). It portrays that god is perhaps cynical about love.

| Posted on 2010-05-28 | by a guest

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The many references to death kind of signify the death of the relationship.

| Posted on 2010-01-17 | by a guest

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Basically the whole idea of the poem is that he is tuck in a circle of thought in which he has no escape. He cannot get the failed relationship out of his head and so it keeps repeating over and over.

| Posted on 2010-01-04 | by a guest

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Neutral Tones by Thomas Hardy is like the title of the poem says very neutral; the melancholic tone of the poem is created by a narrator reflecting on a termination of a relationship. Throughout The poem a very soothing but at the same time depressing language is used to capture the image of this moment. The Poet uses a variety of techniques to highlight the sadness of the poem and to evaluate the feelings of the narrative voice.
In the first stanza the scene is set, we stood by a pond that winter day, and the very language used reflects upon the atmosphere created by the words, no harsh sounds are used and the sentence is an epitome of the poem and the tranquility and yet at the same time disheartening feel that we get from the poem. In the second line we get even more of these very neutral monosyllabic words the sun was white, as though the chidden of god, in this sentence the poets attempt to stay within his own themes are very explicit by the use of the adjective white to describe the sun, the sun normally represented by the colour yellow and a symbol for happiness and life. The very dismal atmosphere is further reinforced by the use of the alliteration of L creating a sort of lazy but yet unsatisfying tone, the further sibilance used in starving sod creates a rather harsh sound that really ads another layer of hopelessness to the poem. The whole metaphor of the few leaves is used to symbolize the end of an era, almost hint towards the dying of life, in this case however it is not life that died but love.
The next stanza talks more about the nature of their relationship, Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove over tedious riddles solved years ago. This can be interpreted to mean that the couple has the same fights over and over again and that there is no progress made, the insignificance of their communication is exposed by the extremely tired and morbid undertone we get in lines such as And some words played between us to and fro-, this really shows that there communication is flawed on a fundamental level making co-existence virtually impossible at least when talking about their relationship.
The first line in the third stanza contains a very emotionally appealing oxymoron that really crushes your heart figuratively speaking, describing her smile, a facial gesture usually associated with happiness and joy, as the deadest thing. This really provokes emotion in the reader because the cold causality of the gesture reminds one of the bitterness of this poem. However this oxymoronic metaphor continues after already having left a strong impression in the readers mind; it is now described as only alive enough to have the strength to die; this further enhances the emotional turmoil inside the reader, this metaphor really presents us with a horrifying image of something that just has enough energy to die but without breaking this neutral tone. This is one of the reasons why this poem is so effective because of its distance and neutrality of the language it is the perfect example of less is sometimes more. Another interesting use of symbolism is the ominous bird a-wing, this could have been put in as a kind of prolepsis to the final stanza, the ominous bird representing his know shattered trust, the word ominous almost suggest something paganistic about this.
The fourth stanza is finally one of total despair; however this is done without breaking the neutral melancholic tone of the poem. The narrator now utters phrases like love deceives, this indicates that he is so hurt from that break up that something inside of him was broken that cannot be repaired at least not right know. He further goes on to say that he was shaped by the wrings with wrong, this alliteration shows how much mental anguish he has been through and we get to almost shar