'The Voice' by Thomas Hardy

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Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me,
Saying that now you are not as you were
When you had changed from the one who was all to me,
But as at first, when our day was fair.Can it be you that I hear?Let me view you, then,
Standing as when I drew near to the town
Where you would wait for me: yes, as I knew you then,
Even to the original air-blue gown!Or is it only the breeze in its listlessness
Travelling across the wet mead to me here,
You being ever dissolved to wan wistlessness,
Heard no more again far or near?Thus I; faltering forward,Leaves around me falling,
Wind oozing thin through the thorn from norward,And the woman calling.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Voice by Thomas Hardy: A Masterpiece of Poetic Sadness

Have you ever heard "the voice" of someone who is no longer with you? That voice that echoes in your head and reminds you of the happy moments you shared together, but also of the pain and sorrow that came after? If you have, then you will understand the deep emotions that Thomas Hardy conveys in his poem "The Voice."

In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will analyze the themes, structure, and language of the poem, to uncover the hidden layers of meaning that make The Voice a true masterpiece of poetic sadness.

The Themes of The Voice

At its core, The Voice is a poem about lost love and the pain of memory. The speaker of the poem, who is presumably Hardy himself, hears the voice of his deceased lover calling out to him from beyond the grave. He longs to be reunited with her, to feel her touch and hear her laughter once more. But he knows that this can never be, and so he is left with nothing but his memories and his regrets.

The theme of lost love is one that is familiar to many of us. We have all experienced the pain of losing someone we love, whether through death, distance, or simply the passage of time. Hardy captures this pain perfectly in his poem, using vivid imagery and powerful language to express the speaker's grief and longing.

Another important theme in The Voice is the idea of time and its passing. The speaker is acutely aware of the years that have gone by since his lover's death, and he feels that he has wasted his life in her absence. He wonders what might have been if they had been able to stay together, and he regrets the time he has lost without her.

This theme of time is woven throughout the poem, from the opening lines where the speaker describes the "voice" that has been silent for so long, to the closing lines where he laments that he has "not kept the youthful faith." It is a reminder that time is precious, and that we should cherish the moments we have with those we love.

The Structure of The Voice

The Voice is a lyric poem, which means that it is a short, emotional poem that expresses the poet's personal feelings and thoughts. It is written in the first person, which gives the reader a sense of intimacy with the speaker and allows us to share in his emotions.

The poem is structured in three stanzas of equal length, each with a distinct mood and tone. The first stanza sets the scene and introduces the main theme of the poem, with the speaker describing the voice that he hears in his mind. The second stanza is more introspective, as the speaker reflects on his own life and regrets. The final stanza brings the poem to a close, with the speaker expressing his desire to be reunited with his lover and his sadness that this can never be.

The structure of The Voice is simple but effective. By dividing the poem into three stanzas, Hardy creates a sense of progression and development, as the speaker moves from the initial shock and disbelief of hearing the voice, to his deeper feelings of longing and regret. The repetition of certain phrases and images throughout the poem also adds to its emotional impact, reinforcing the central themes of lost love and the passage of time.

The Language of The Voice

Thomas Hardy was a master of language, and The Voice is no exception. The poem is written in a simple, direct style that is easy to understand, yet it is also full of rich and evocative imagery that brings the speaker's emotions to life.

One of the most striking features of the poem is its use of repetition. Throughout the poem, certain phrases and images are repeated, creating a sense of rhythm and intensity that draws the reader in. For example, the phrase "call to me" is repeated several times, each time with a slightly different emphasis, to convey the speaker's desperation to hear his lover's voice once more.

The poem is also full of powerful metaphors and similes that help to convey the speaker's emotions. For example, he describes the voice as "the ghost of a sound" and "the blight of life." These metaphors suggest the ephemeral nature of memory and the way in which lost love can haunt us for years to come.

Finally, the language of The Voice is notable for its use of sound. Hardy employs alliteration, assonance, and rhyme to create a musical quality to the poem, making it a joy to read aloud. For example, the repeated "s" sounds in the opening lines, "Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me" create a sense of softness and longing that perfectly captures the tone of the poem.


In conclusion, The Voice is a masterpiece of poetic sadness that captures the pain and longing of lost love. Through its themes of memory, time, and regret, its simple yet effective structure, and its rich and evocative language, Thomas Hardy has created a poem that speaks to the hearts of anyone who has ever loved and lost. The Voice is a reminder that even in our darkest moments, we can find solace in the beauty of language and the power of poetry.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Voice by Thomas Hardy: A Masterpiece of Poetic Expression

Thomas Hardy, the renowned English novelist and poet, is known for his profound and melancholic works that explore the complexities of human emotions and relationships. One of his most celebrated poems, The Voice, is a hauntingly beautiful piece that captures the essence of grief, loss, and longing. Written in 1912, the poem is a reflection of Hardy's personal experiences and his deep sense of nostalgia for his past love.

The Voice is a lyrical poem that consists of six stanzas, each with four lines. The poem is written in the first person, and the speaker is addressing his deceased lover. The poem begins with the speaker hearing the voice of his beloved, who has been dead for years. The voice is described as a "ghostly" presence that speaks to him from beyond the grave. The speaker is filled with a sense of longing and despair as he listens to the voice, which reminds him of the happy times they shared together.

The poem is a powerful expression of the speaker's grief and his struggle to come to terms with the loss of his beloved. The voice of his lover is a reminder of the past, and the speaker is unable to let go of his memories. He is haunted by the voice, which brings back the pain and the joy of their relationship. The speaker is torn between his desire to hold on to the past and his need to move on with his life.

The Voice is a deeply emotional poem that explores the themes of love, loss, and memory. The poem is a reflection of Hardy's own experiences, as he too had lost his beloved wife, Emma, years before he wrote this poem. The poem is a tribute to his wife and a testament to the enduring power of love.

The poem is filled with vivid imagery and metaphors that add to its emotional impact. The voice of the speaker's lover is described as a "ghostly" presence, which creates a sense of unease and mystery. The speaker's memories are compared to "flowers" that have withered and died, which is a poignant metaphor for the loss of love. The poem also uses the imagery of the "wind" and the "sea" to convey the speaker's sense of restlessness and longing.

The Voice is a masterful example of Hardy's poetic style, which is characterized by its simplicity and directness. The poem is written in plain language, which makes it accessible to a wide audience. The poem is also structured in a way that is easy to follow, with each stanza building on the previous one to create a sense of progression.

The poem is also notable for its use of repetition, which adds to its emotional impact. The phrase "I cannot say" is repeated throughout the poem, emphasizing the speaker's inability to express his feelings. The repetition of the phrase "since then" also creates a sense of time passing and the speaker's growing sense of loss.

The Voice is a timeless poem that continues to resonate with readers today. Its themes of love, loss, and memory are universal, and its emotional impact is undeniable. The poem is a testament to the enduring power of love and the human spirit, and it is a fitting tribute to Hardy's own personal experiences.

In conclusion, The Voice is a masterpiece of poetic expression that captures the essence of grief, loss, and longing. Hardy's use of vivid imagery, metaphors, and repetition creates a powerful emotional impact that resonates with readers today. The poem is a tribute to the enduring power of love and the human spirit, and it is a testament to Hardy's own personal experiences. The Voice is a timeless work of art that will continue to inspire and move readers for generations to come.

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