Thomas Hardy

Start Your Free Trial

How can one define or describe the poetic style of Thomas Hardy?

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write9,531 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

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.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

appletrees eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write920 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The term "poetic style" may be aptly applied to prose as well as poetry, "poetic" being a word applicable to style as well as genre. There can be no debate that Hardy's descriptive style as employed in his novels is often poetic, often transcending the boundaries of simple prose and becoming long form poetry in its own right.

This is particularly true for Hardy's descriptive passages focusing on natural landscapes, which often provide a symbolic or metaphorical accompaniment to the emotions, thoughts and actions of his characters. Hardy's novel The Return of the Native contains many such examples of poetic prose. For example, this passage from the opening chapter contains alliterative ("pickaxe, plough or spade") and picturesque phrases and internal rhyme (

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 704 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

morrol eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write337 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial