Explore and discuss how Hardy portrays the memory of a loved one in the poem "The Voice."
"The Voice" is one of a series of poems that Hardy wrote as a kind of lament to his dead wife, Emma, expressing his loss but also something of the guilt that he felt in the way that he had treated her when she was alive. The poem presents us with a speaker that is literally haunted by the ghost of his dead wife as he walks in the countryside, hearing her voice in the wind and trying desperately to recapture her presence but in vain. To me, one of the most important parts of the poem is the second stanza:
Can it be you that I hear? Let me view you, then,
Standing as when I drew near to the town
Where you would wait for me; yes, as I knew you then,
Even to the original air-blue gown!
Here Hardy asks the ghost to appear as his wife appeared when they were courting so long ago, even to the detail of wearing the same gown that Hardy obviously clearly remembers. However, in his description of a loved one who has now died, it is clear that this is just wishful thinking on the part of the speaker - he is left immediately doubting the presence of "the voice," thinking it is just the wind, and he is left to press on in his walk and through life, alone.