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The Voice Hardy Essay

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Summary: Provides a detailed commentary of the poem "The Voice", by Thomas Hardy.


The poem "The voice" is a touching account of a man's sense of loss and of his difficulty to come to terms with the absence of a loved woman. The narrator, hearing the voice of the woman he loved but who is now absent from his life, addresses her directly and is led to happily and in a very touching way reminisce in the second stanza about his past with her; however, there is then a shift in tone in the third stanza, as he is brought back to earth whilst questioning the probability of really hearing this woman's voice. Finally, in the fourth stanza, we leave him struggling with his sense of loss.

The poem starts with "Woman much missed," thus immediately introducing the notion of a sense of loss. This sense of loss is not an acute pain but rather a soft ache: this impression of...

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This section contains 924 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)

View a FREE sample

“The Voice”

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.

This poem by Thomas Hardy gives of an air of pessimism and apparent helpless but not because of physical incapacity but instead of a personal conflict involving another. The speaker is almost haunted by the thought of his lover looking for him or her but no longer being the same person that she was before. The speaker is not completely confident of his or her own abilities because his or her own thoughts are too fixated on the effects of the person, classified as “you” in the poem, and how they continue to afflict or confuse the speaker.

The repetition of the person calling to the speaker emphasizes significance of this action to the poem and also how incessant it is to the speaker. In the first stanza “you” is almost stressed every time that it appears yet “me” is not stressed, when reading this out loud it is evident that the speaker is more aware of the action of “you” than his or her own. There is slight consonance in the closing lines of the first stanza with the “w” sound and this sound is attached to words that reference time along with “who,” these sounds together mark the idea that the “you” in the poem that the speaker longs for is in the past or no longer exists.

The second stanza of the poem is more centered on the speaker and his own inquiries about “you.” There is a repetition of you throughout the lines but what stands out is where “yes” is stressed before and after a pause, the sound alone prepares for the exclamatory closing line of the stanza that highlights the speaker’s ability to actually make statements of his or her own about “you.” Also the rhyme scheme unites the “then” giving emphasis to all this being long gone and also the rhyming of “town” and “gown” point out the physical ties that remain of “you” but mark even more her absence.

The last two stanzas are the more drained stanzas that leave an empty feeling in the reader. The rhyming of lines 1 and 3 of the third stanza and the plethora of “s” creates a feeling of vast emptiness because they seem to just trail of the line. The rhyme scheme also leads to “here” and “near” popping out but although there are definitive physical locations, they mark how the speaker is confused as to where the woman is and where he or she stands. The final stanza continues this vein with a sense of indefinite movement but also has a powerful sound image in “wind oozing” which is paradoxical because the ooze sound makes the wind seem flaccid or dead. This mood allows the poem to conclude the poem melancholically by repeating that the woman is calling but no action is defined.

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