Thomas Hardy

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Summarize the poem "Weathers" by Thomas Hardy.

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This seemingly simple poem filled with rich imagery contrasts two rain storms. Keep in mind that the title, "Weathers," can be read as a pun on "whethers." In the first stanza, the rain is welcomed by the "cuckoo," the narrator, and the "little brown nightingale." In this depiction of a rain storm, people gather outside an inn called The Traveller's Rest and young women emerge in pretty spring dresses: "sprig-muslin drest." We can picture the teenaged girls showing up in their light cotton ("muslin") dresses printed with clusters of flowers. This is a pleasant, happy scene, and both the people in it and the narrator "dream" of trips to the south and west of England.

The second stanza also describes a rain storm, one both the "shepherd" (a person who would be outside all day minding the sheep) and the narrator "shun" or avoid. In this stanza, the storm is so violent the beech trees "thresh and ply," meaning they twist and bend in the wind, and the rivers flood. Even the rooks, birds that usually stay out in all weather, take shelter, as does the narrator. 

The poem shows how a rainstorm can be reacted to differently based on "whether" it is soft or hard. Soft rain is welcomed by all, while harder rain is dangerous and sends people and birds fleeing for shelter.

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One of the themes of Hardy's poetry that it is hard to ignore is the weather and the countryside, and in this simplistic poem Hardy re-visits these themes by focussing on two different states of weather and how one is desired and loved by himself and others and the other state of weather is disliked and shunned.

The first season is spring, when "showers betumble the chestnut spikes, / And nestlings fly." The singing of the nightingale and the feeling of joy in people as spring comes, announcing the end of winter, creates an excitement in the natural world that is shared by the narrator.

The second season is autumn, which "the shepherd shuns." This is when "beeches drip in browns and duns," and birds such as rooks, in an attempt to escape the bad weather, "homeward go." This sentiment of wanting to escape the bad weather is shared by the narrator, who likewise heads home to his warm house.

Things to note in this poem is the simplistic, child-like rhythm that is reinforced by repetition of lines such as "And so do I," that make this a poem more for children compared to Hardy's more serious poems.

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