The poet Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in England. Many of his poems and writings were considered to be quite gloomy and dark, but he was also inspirational in many ways.
The poem "Afterwards" explores the idea of remembrance after death. The speaker poses the question: how will I be remembered once I'm gone?
Each stanza ends with a possible observation which might be given by a neighbor or friend. The speaker is wondering whether he will be remembered as he hopes. These questions show us attributes which he may be proud of or identify with, but he isn't sure whether others also notice these same characteristics.
The structure of the poem, quatrains with an ABAB rhyme, is rhythmic and familiar. He may be encouraging the reader to consider how common death is. The poem isn't really about death, after all. There's no fear or sadness in this poem, rather a comfortable ruminating tone.
In fact, the poem may be urging the reader to consider their own life. What kind of legacy are you leaving behind? How will your neighbors remember you?
The poem is also filled with images. At the same time as he ponders the above questions, Hardy is also celebrating the small details of nature.
Here are some images from the poem:
glad green leaves like wings,
delicate-filmed as new-spun silk
nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm,
These images, and more throughout the poem, capture the essence of the natural landscape Hardy loved so much.
The speaker wants to be remembered, not so much for what he did, but for the way he noticed and appreciated the world around him, taking time to care for hedgehogs and listen for bells.
Perhaps we can also be encouraged to seek out nature and open our eyes a little wider to the creatures around us and the sounds we too often ignore.