Thematically, Hardy's poetry is deeply pessimistic and fatalistic, anticipating the alienation of the post-World War I "lost generation" even in his poems composed before 1914 (he died in 1928 and wrote much poetry in his later years). We can only generalize, but his poetic style, in contrast to his themes, is traditional, meaning he used rhyme schemes, poetic forms such as the ode, and allusions typical of nineteenth-century poetry. In "A Broken Appointment," for example, Hardy uses such rhymes as "there" and "overbear," "make" and "sake," and "come" and "sum" to create a conventional rhythm. His most famous poems have a similar rhyming cadence that would have been familiar and comfortable to ordinary audiences of his time.
To use one example of his style, Hardy writes "The Darkling Thrush" (1900), perhaps his most famous poem, in the form of an ode, a traditional form that addresses a specific subject. The poem adopts a conventional A/B, A/B rhyme scheme: "gray/day,"sky/nigh" etc. Further, in phrases such as "The wind [in] its death-lament," the poem alludes to or references poems such as Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind" in its "dirge/ of the dying year."
What makes Hardy's poems jarring is his juxtaposition of traditional and comforting form and meter with chillingly dark and fatalistic themes.