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How does Thomas Hardy convey a sense of isolation in the poem "Nobody Comes"?

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lcch | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 9, 2012 at 3:44 PM via web

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How does Thomas Hardy convey a sense of isolation in the poem "Nobody Comes"?

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 9, 2012 at 10:21 PM (Answer #1)

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Thomas Hardy’s poem “Nobody Comes” has an ethereal quality.  Its melancholy tone communicates a sadness as he waits for someone who does not come.

Typical of Hardy’s poetry in later life, the poem is based on an actual event in his life.  His second wife, thirty years younger than Hardy, had to have a tumor removed in London. Hardy’s younger brother picked her up and brought to their home.  This poem refers to Hardy waiting for their return. 

The poem takes the form of a sonnet with fourteen lines and a set rhyme scheme.  The narration is first person with the poet serving as the narrator.

Using visual imagery, Hardy describes a windy evening with the narrator looking out the window waiting. Through the trees, he sees a faint light which fades into the darkness. Employing personification, a telegraph wire leading into town hums to people who pass by as though a ghostly lyre is played by a phantom player.

It appears that the poet’s intention was to create an atmosphere of mystery and eeriness. His vocabulary choice replicates a disturbing night: fainting, succumbs, crawl, darkening land, spectral hand.  All odd words to describe an ordinary, windy night.  Something is afoot! Or possibly, the narrator’s imagination plays tricks on him.

In the second stanza, a car drives up, with its bright light shining on a tree.  Sadly, it has nothing to do with the poet.   The car “whangs” [onomatopoeia] traveling along going to its own destination; it leaves black smoke as it goes.

The black air coming from the car may also indicate how the poet feels once he realizes this car did not hold the person or people that he expected to come.  Loneliness abounds as he stands alone waiting, and no one comes to join him.

 A car comes up, with lamps full-glare
That flash upon a tree: It has nothing to do with me

Silently, the poet stands by the gate alone with not a soul coming to see him.  The poem begins and ends with the isolating word “nobody.”

And mute by the gate I stand again alone,
And nobody pulls up there.

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