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    The darkling Thrush and Neutral tones Essay

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    Both poems deal with the presence or lack of hope. Though hope may not be mentioned many times throughout the poem, it is clear ‘The Darkling Thrush’ optimises hope, whereas ‘Neutral Tones’ is about the end of a relationship. ‘The Darkling Thrush’ begins with the introduction of Thomas Hardy describing all that he sees and feels around him in negatively superficial detail. This is done by continuously using exaggerated personifications, ‘The wind his death-lament.

    ‘ These help give the poem a vivid image to gain the depth of Thomas Hardy’s feeling towards the landscape and so when reading through the poem, it is very clear when the poem takes on a positive tone: ‘At once a voice arose among The bleak twigs overhead’ The theme of hope can be seen as anything good or positive taking place when there is nothing but negativity around. In this part of the poem it comes suddenly, as emphasized by the ‘At once’ in the first line of the second stanza.

    It brings Warmth to a poem which in the previous two stanzas expressed nothing but cold and negative emotions, which were further enhanced by alliterations, such as: ‘The Century’s corpse out leant His crypt the cloudy canopy,’ Thomas Hardy is clearly in a very pessimistic mood, this is made obvious in the first line of the last stanza where he reprehends the Thrush’s’ actions; ‘So little cause for carolings’. This is a metaphor used to describe the connotations of Christmas time. In the last 4 lines of the last stanza it becomes apparent that though Thomas Hardy maybe in a pessimistic mood, he is not actually hopeless.

    ‘Some blessed hope, whereof he knew And I was unaware. ‘ By questioning the actions of the thrush, he himself eventually realises that hope may exist only he is unaware as to when it may come or what form it maybe in. When reading a poem, the first thing that the reader usually glances at is the title, therefore, the title has to have a certain amount of information in it. For example, when the reader looks at the word Neutral in Neutral Tones he or she will immediately have certain ideas and connotations running through his or her head.

    The word ‘neutral’ has connotations such as ‘silence,’ ‘disinterest,’ ‘dispassionate’ and ‘impartial. ‘ Therefore, the reader immediately is given a clue about what the poem is going to be about. The reader knows that this poem is not going to be about something exciting or adventurous. As a result, Hardy’s presentation of love is bleak. One of the ways that one can tell that Neutral Tones is about a concluding relationship is by the figurative language. For example, line nine declares, “The smile on her face was the deadest thing”.

    By using the word “deadest,” Hardy has suggested that the connection between the two is dying; had he used the words “happiest” or “warmest”; it would have changed the message of the phrase totally and would have suggested that the relationship was content. Hardy also uses the word grey often. As grey is associated with neutral and endings but not the end, it suggests that the relationship is coming to an end, whereas if he had used the word ‘black’ it would have changed the meaning, as black has connotations of endings, death and insecurity.

    On the other hand, if Hardy had used the words ‘red’ or ‘pink, it would have given the impression of the relationship being in an earlier stage, i. e. the lust stage; this is because love and lust are associated with such colours. Also, on line four Hardy writes, “they had fallen from an ash and were grey. ” Hardy has used the ash tree for a certain reason, this being the fact that the ash tree is a symbol of love. Because Hardy had said that the leaves on the tree were falling and grey one would presume that the couple’s love is also ‘falling,’ therefore, the reader believes that the couple’s relationship is falling apart.

    Figurative work to present the scenery of Thomas Hardy’s mood as well as the petty argument that took place between both of them, ‘And some words played between us to and fro On which lost the more by our love’ Hardy uses winter to portray love in his poem. This tells the reader that the relationship is at an end. It could also mean that the couple has cold feelings towards each other, as winter is the coldest season. This portrays the stage of love as it tells you what the couple is feeling towards each other and what stage of love they are in.

    The tone of each poem is quite similar; although they don’t both dominantly portray the same negativeness. In ‘The Darkling Thrush’ we have stronger emotions and a more morbid insight to the poem that ends with an unexpected arrival of hope. Whereas with ‘Neutral Tones’ it offers a succinct conclusion to a failed love story, and it also shows how memory works that we frequently think and feel in terms of visual image, thus creating more of a stir, and so to me making it more fascinating.

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