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    Public poetry as opposed to confessional verse? Essay

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    Examples of this include the brightness and clarity of memory in “Even to the original air blue gown” against the bitter, indifference and “listlessness” of the breeze in “The Voice”, the opposing images highlighting the contrast of the prior happiness and passion between Hardy and a lover against her debatable existence of the present. Another example is in “At Castle Boterel”, with Hardy using pathetic fallacy to contrast the “Dry March weather” in which he “And a girlish form benighted” against the “unflinching rigour” of Time and the “rain” of the present.

    This consistent use of opposed imagery to enact effect shows that Hardy remains consistent with his usage of literary techniques, but applies them to a different extent- the gravitas and harsh opposition of the public “The Convergence of the Twain” allow the public to appreciate the visceral nature of the Titanic’s sinking and Hardy’s clinical, impersonal interpretation, whilst the subtle confusion and blending of tense of his more private works heightens the personal depth of Hardy’s thoughts and allows the reader to appreciate his confusion.

    Finally, the closing six stanzas of “The Convergence of the Twain” take a wide ranging, anecdotal tone, alongside the introduction of the omnipotent, invincible nature of the natural contrast to the hubristic desires of man previously described. Hardy utilises metaphors to emphasise the enduring opposition between the entities of man and nature, and emphasises this by introducing wider themes of the male and female, and the less wide ranging but equally important antithesis of ship and iceberg.

    Hardy contrasts the human ambition of the “creature of cleaving wing” against the power of the fated “Immanent Will”, that prepares a “sinister mate”, intertwining the themes of male and female, man and nature, and ship and iceberg. The stanza wide enjambment of “The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything /Prepared a sinister mate” also emphasises the unstoppable nature of Time, the power of the stanzas aligning the power of the “Higher Forces”.

    This tone continues with “The intimate welding of their later history”, the oxymoronic nature of “intimate welding”, the non sequitor of intimacy possibly highlighting Hardy’s lack of compassion for events, or simply adding to the underlying theme of eternal verities and their opposition. This continues in the closing stanza of the poem, “Till the Spinner of the Years/Said “Now! ” And each one hears,/And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres”.

    The personification of “the Spinner of the Years” adds to its power, and the simplicity of “consummation” and the ambiguity of “two hemispheres” suggest that Hardy is removing all horror and myth from the event- to him it is a collision of enduring forces, and nothing more. This idea of the power of Time is consistent to many of Hardy’s poems, but its simplicity in the public eye is very different to the confusion and personal angst that it causes Hardy in many of his confessional works of verse.

    Time is to Hardy’s detriment through the entirety of “The Voice”, as it reduces his intimate lyric for his wife, “Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me” to the ambiguous, almost spiteful staccato punch of “The woman, calling. ” This personal angst is very different to the simple omnipotence that Hardy exhibits in “The Convergence of the Twain”, and the specific power is better revealed in “At Castle Boterel”.

    Described as “Time’s unflinching rigour” and “mindless rote”, it has the power to reduce “Dry March weather” to “drizzle”, that “bedrenches the wagonette”, and reduce “A time of such quality” to a mere “phantom figure”, contrasting the events to the extent that it gives them an air of irreconcilability, similar to the opposition of “the creature of cleaving wing” and “sinister mate” of “The Convergence of the Twain”.

    Finally, irrelevance of man in the eyes of Time, and the idea of circumstance being more powerful than any emotion or action that humans can muster, is featured extensively in “The Convergence of the Twain”, “The Spinner of the Years said “Now!! And each one hears/And consummation comes”, and also in Hardy’s personal works. Examples of this include “I look behind on the fading byway”, as Time causes the clarity of the memory to gradually dissipate.

    This can be interpreted in many ways, with the possibility of the happy memories fading, or the present fading against the stark, important past. The fact that this interpretation is multi-faceted furthers the idea of Time’s power, and the inability of humans, with either personal thought or the building of an elitist vessel, to prevent it from crushing everything in its path. In conclusion, Hardy’s responds to the challenge of writing a public piece, as opposed to his deeply confessional private verse, with a skilful blend of the literary techniques that go into any piece of verse.

    However, the levels of sophistication and subtly are adroitly varied to present the contrast between the impersonal, stark reality of “The Convergence of the Twain”, and the emotional confusion, angst and torment that similar themes and ideas cause him in his confessional verse- in effect, Hardy simply uses the opposites of consistency and variation together, as with the opposition that features in both audiences of his verse.

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