Thomas use it to reconnect with her, relive his

Topic: EnvironmentNatural Disasters
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Last updated: January 2, 2020

Thomas Hardyrepresents nature as being an omnipotent and omnipresent force, using it as ameans to provide comfort for himself and to express his inner feelings of guiltand a sense of loss over the death of his wife Emma.

Hardy’s poetry can beanalysed through the lens of eco-criticism, which “takes as its subject the interconnections between nature and culture”(CA).  Barry Commoner’s First Law ofEcology states that “everything isconnected to everything else” (CA). This suggests that Emma’s life andnature were entwined with one another, allowing Hardy to connect with herthrough nature after her death as she was once part of it – the law toosuggests that the grieving process that Hardy is going through is universallyfelt.  Although Hardy’s grieving was longfollowing Emma’s passing he contrasted his own temporary sorrows with thepermanence of nature – Green Studies explores this by stating that “place matters as much as time, geography asmuch as history, being as much as becoming, permanence as much as change”(CA). As a result of nature’s omnipotence and omnipresence it was therethroughout his relationship with Emma and he can use it to reconnect with her,relive his memories with her and use it to come to terms of her passing as partof nature’s cycle as death is a part of nature in which all humans willinevitably face.’Rain on a Grave’, written around twomonths after the death of Emma, focuses on Hardy’s mourning of Emma’s death,and his gradual coming to terms with it.

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The rain hitting the grave can beinterpreted in a variety of ways. Rain could be a metaphor for the tears criedby Hardy over his deceased wife’s grave, an appropriate comparison whichreflects his raw emotions associated with his mourning after her passing.Alternatively, as rain is physically hitting the grave – shown through themetaphor “arrows of rain” – it couldsuggest how Hardy was reflecting on the indifference of nature to the sufferingof humans; this is further exemplified by the personification of the clouds ashaving “spout upon her… in ruthlessdistain”. Giving these characters to nature demonstrates how Hardy believednature had a cruel and cold side, unsympathetic to the hardships humans suffer.Though perhaps it is not nature that is vindictive and perhaps it is God, as away of punishing Hardy for his ill-treatment of Emma during their relationship.The first stanza possesses a negative lexical field, using terms such as “distain”, “pain” and “dishonour”,which reflects the emotional turmoil Hardy was feeling following the death ofEmma. As the poem progresses Hardy begins to come to terms with her death, witha more positive lexical field being employed in the final stanza – “sweet”, “loved” and “pleasure”.Over time nature has improved his emotions, helping him to come to terms withlife without Emma.

Emma becomes part of nature, as new life appears from Emma’sgrave – her memory will continue through nature’s presence, linking toCommoner’s aforementioned quotation. Her body becomes part of the landscape innature’s eternal cycle of life, with “sweetblades from her mound”, and Hardy compares the daises growing as “stars on the ground”.  The stars can be interpreted as a metaphor ofEmma herself as an important guiding light for Hardy towards his recovery, andthe regeneration of life nature offers provides him comfort. ‘Under the Waterfall’ demonstrates Hardy’s everlastinglove for Emma through the beauty and permanence of the surroundings, althoughnot part of the 1912/1913 collection it is a fitting elegy to it.

Visually thepoem takes the flowing structure of a waterfall, the enjambment of linesrepresenting the continuous flow of water and too the continuing nature oftheir love. Anthropomorphism of the waterfall as having a “hollow boiling voice” which has “spoken since hills were turfless peaks” demonstrates theomnipotence of nature, supporting the idea of deep ecology as nature has beenthe eternal force which was present before humans, and will continue to beafter. This representation of nature by Hardy could be used to provide comfortto himself and his temporary emotions over Emma in comparison to the eternal,powerful earth of which humans are its passing guests. Eco-criticism is evidentfrom Hardy’s description of “a leaf-woveawning of green”, creating a strong positive ambience.

It can be arguedthat Hardy was guilty of using pastoral, idealizing nature and creating apost-card picture perfect image of his memories with Emma. Perhaps Hardy wasusing the protection of the awning of nature as a means of escaping his guiltover his treatment of her, reconstructing the relationship as perfect in hismind to provide ease for himself. Written in speech marks, the speaker recallshow her and her lover drank together from a glass, but it fell into thewaterfall – “it slipped, and sank, and wasbeyond recall”.

Much like how they were unable to recapture the glass fromthe water, Hardy was unable to recapture his love from Emma after her death;sibilance from “slipped, and sank”puts emphasis on the distain Hardy felt after losing Emma. Though, nature haspreserved the “chalice” in time bykeeping it “intact” allowing thismemory and their love to be protected through time.

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