Thomas Hardy Questions and Answers

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How might one compare and contrast the poetry of Thomas Hardy with the poetry Gerard Manley Hopkins and A. E. Housman?

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In trying to situate Thomas Hardy in the history of English poetry, it is useful to compare and contrast him with two very different poets – Gerard Manley Hopkins and A. E. Housman. When compared with these two writers, Hardy obviously has far more in common with Housman than with Hopkins.  Partly their resemblances are stylistic, but partly their resemblances also involve their basic outlooks on the world. Comparisons and contrasts among the three writers include the following:

  • Hopkins was deeply religious; Hardy and Housman were both far more skeptical about religion.
  • Hopkins writes in a style that is deliberately unusual and even difficult. It is, in some ways, a conscious imitation of the kind of “metaphysical” writing employed by such earlier authors as the seventeenth-century “metaphysical” poet John Donne. Hopkins was trying to create a poetic language that would seem highly distinctive and that would arrest the attention of readers. It is hard to catch the full meaning...

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