Thomas Hardy

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Describe figurative speech in "The Workbox" by Thomas Hardy.

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In this seemingly simple poem about village life, a woodworker or "joiner" gives his wife a wooden sewing box he has made for her. At first, this appears a touching gesture, and the wife approaches the husband with "a smile" and tells him it "Twill last all my sewing years!" The language his conveys happiness.

But then the sweet poem turns dark as the wife learns the box was made of a leftover piece of the coffin of a man, John Wayward, from the wife's village. The husband wonders if she is concerned about having a box made from a coffin, and mentions the idea that the wood stands for the proximity of life and death:

One inch where people eat and drink/the next inch in a tomb.

(The entire section contains 388 words.)

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