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The Self Unseeing Essay

383 words - 2 pages

The Self-Unseeing – Notes This lilting, serious, elegant poem illustrates several of the salient qualities in Hardy’s lyrical poetry. We see here, for example, what has been justly termed his “natural piety” – the “he” and the “she” are his father and mother. We notice how the subject of beloved things in retrospect calls out here, as it seldom failed to do, the poet’s lyrical tenderness. The poem illustrates, too, that love of music and the dance which affected Hardy from an early age, and clearly influenced his style. It shows his delicate skill in ...view middle of the document...

It starts by describing the setting, then moves on to feelings with which the reader can identify. Here Hardy shows his strengths of setting, voice and tense. The past and present tenses in the first stanza signal that the narrator is talking about past and present simultaneously – a paradox, like the title of the poem. The poem’s narrator exhibits feelings of futility in this view of the past and the dead. The metre/rhyme scheme coupled with the detailed description of setting contributes to its haunting quality. Its ABAB rhyme scheme is like a child’s hand leading the reader through the poem. Its opening stanza has a bare and ominous setting – the reader is brought to the floor, then to the feet, up to the chair, then “higher and higher” as the image of happiness intensifies in the narrator’s mind. The last stanza is through the eyes of a child, and we get caught up in his vision through the poet’s startling diction: blessings, emblazoned, danced, glowed. Its last line is a cry of surprised exasperation. Central to much of Hardy’s work is the notion that we can never appreciate the present, except in retrospect – when it’s too late. In this poem the notion is very clearly presented. The Self-Unseeing compares well with the other Hardy poem, and with D. H. Lawrence’s Piano.

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