Please discuss the interrelationship between explicit and implicit meaning in the three poems: "I Look Into My Glass," "The Man He Killed" and "Drummer Hodge."And please employ relevant literary...

Please discuss the interrelationship between explicit and implicit meaning in the three poems: "I Look Into My Glass," "The Man He Killed" and "Drummer Hodge."And please employ relevant literary terminology to discuss this poetry the analyse the effect of using identified literary terminology.

And please analyse the ways that contexts can influence the production and reception of poetry while critically reviewing this range of poems.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

[While the requests made by this posting arel beyond the scope of this space, hopefully, the response here can act as a springboard for the assignment. Keep in mind that there is much written on Thomas Hardy which will provide a wealth of information and analyses of his perspectives, style, and poetry.]

  • Implicit/explicit meanings and terminology - Known as "the good grey poet," Thomas Hardy exhibits in his novels and poetry both a love of nature as well as a pervasive fatalism. An essential theme of his works is that of the cruel and arbitrary irony of an unknowing, indifferent, inexorable "Immanent Will." 

--This fatalism is implicit in the three poems under study. In the first poem, "I Look into My Glass," the speaker wishes for his heart to diminish in its capacity as have other parts of his body; however, an implacable fate deals him the full agonizing feelings of this heart. Against this cruel act of Chance he has no recourse.

But Time, to make me grieve,
Part steals, lets part abide;

--With understatement and irony in "The Man He Killed," Hardy expresses with an innovative stanza the arbitrary forces of the Immanent Will that places him face to face with a man who has become his enemy only because by chance there is a war that causes the man to be "shot down." This poem is also demonstrative of Hardy's concept of Victorian sentiments against a prevailing gloom and somber doubt about the optimism that war can improve the human condition:

Yes; quaint and curious war is !
You ; shoot a fellow down
You’d treat , if met where any bar is
Or help to half a crown.

The ironic use of "quaint and curious" for the arbitrary chance of wartime death that brutally assaults innocent men [one critic calls Hardy's imagery "visceral"] underscores Hardy's true sentiments, his perspective of an indifferent world that is merely a series of adventures in frustration and often defeat. 

--In "Drummer Hodge," Hardy again addresses the arbitrariness of Chance that places the country yokel (Hodge was a name given to "the pitiable dummy" in British newspapers of the time) in a foreign land on the other side of the world. His death means little to his own nation, but he will long have "Strange stars" shine over him, and Nature will long preserve him by making him a part of itself as he becomes part of "some Southern tree":

Will Hodge for ever be;
His homely Northern breast and brain
Grow to some Southern tree;
And  strange – eyed constellations reign
His stars eternally.

An explicit meaning is conveyed with the formality of structure of this poem and its strict ababa rhyme scheme (the other poems have this scheme, but it is broken at times). Also, Hardy uses a more formal division of the poem with the Roman numerals which suggest an elegy. 


  • Critical commentary, comparing and contrasting the three poems

There are, certainly, parallels between "Drummer Hodge" and "The Man He Killed" in which men are taken to war by forces beyond them, and it is an indifferent universe and mere Chance that some live and some die; however, the tone of these poems differs as in "The Man He Killed" the speaker is halted by the implacable moment of fate that has left him alive and a stranger against whom he has held no malice is dead. And, yet his life is altered irrevocably as he is bereft of hope for a sympathetic world. On the other hand, in "Drummer Hodge," the tone of this poem is one of a certain exaltation in nature that sympathetically makes the fallen soldier a part of it as he "grows" into the nearby tree and the heavens shine down upon him:

And  strange – eyed constellations reign
His stars eternally.

In all three poems, there is a fatalistic voice with the motif of the existential aloneness of man. While there is some Victorian sentimentality to Hardy's poems, there is also the disillusion and somber doubt of the modern age. Thus, these three poems of Thomas Hardy illuminate his contention that "who hold that if a way to the Better be, it exacts a full look at the Worst."

sadi-k | Student

Here in the first poem"I look into my glass' Hardy going to lead a very miserable condition. basically the whole poem is the true feeling of the poet, he is very hopeless and its shown when he said"My wasting skin' ,He feels that everything going to be finish and there is no hope for any better .But yet He is not ready to accept all that or even we can say he could not accept all that, its shown when He says"Would God it came to pass'??

Yet He is consoling himself by using the word"undistrest' He feels that He will get rid of all that suffering He is leading now,and he will e free from all worries.But i think he is actually afraid from his death so he is making lam excuses for making himself feel easy.

But at the end wait make him stranger, he cannot wait anymore for the particular time.


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