June 2 – Happy Birthday, Thomas Hardy

Posted on June 2, 2014

Thomas Hardy was an English poet and writer who lived during Victorian times. He was born on this date in 1840.

Like his fellow Victorian author, Charles Dickens, Hardy criticized the society he lived in. But I like him best because he seems to combine aspects of the Romantics AND the Realists.

The Romantic poets used very flowery language and very sentimental story lines and themes. The Realists described everyday life more than grand romances and adventures. Some of Hardy's poems seem to copy the Romantics but then put a rather cynical twist on the sentimentality.

Here is one example:

The Children and Sir Nameless
by Thomas Hardy

Sir Nameless, once of Athelhall, declared:
"These wretched children romping in my park
Trample the herbage till the soil is bared,
And yap and yell from early morn till dark!
Go keep them harnessed to their set routines:
Thank God I've none to hasten my decay;
For green remembrance there are better means
Than offspring, who but wish their sires away."

Sir Nameless of that mansion said anon:
"To be perpetuate for my mightiness
Sculpture must image me when I am gone."
- He forthwith summoned carvers there express
To shape a figure stretching seven-odd feet
(For he was tall) in alabaster stone,
With shield, and crest, and casque, and word complete:
When done a statelier work was never known.

Three hundred years hied; Church-restorers came,
And, no one of his lineage being traced,
They thought an effigy so large in frame
Best fitted for the floor. There it was placed,
Under the seats for schoolchildren. And they
Kicked out his name, and hobnailed off his nose;
And, as they yawn through sermon-time, they say,
"Who was this old stone man beneath our toes?"

(This poem reminds me of the poem "Ozymandias.")

Another of Hardy's poems that I like is, “Ah, Are You Digging on My Grave?” 

Hardy proved that he was smart when he was still a kid, but his father was a tradesman, a stonemason, and so Hardy didn't have enough money to go university. He ended up becoming an apprentice to an architect and lived in London for a while.

Hardy preferred life in the country, though, so he chose to move to Dorset, England, where he was born, and he concentrated on writing. That was brave – but he did end up with some success. For example, he was awarded the Order of Merit, and when he died (at a ripe old age), his ashes were buried in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.

Also on this date:

Check out my Pinterest boards for:
And here are my Pinterest boards for:

No comments:

Post a Comment