Thomas Hardy as a War Poet

1932 Words Feb 23rd, 2009 8 Pages
Thomas Hardy as a War Poet Thomas Hardy is one of the most famous and prolific British writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Most people recognize Hardy as an author of novels, but he preferred to write poetry. Both his novels and his poetry give a pessimistic view of the world. Subjects for his poetry include nature, love, and war. Most of his poems on war have tragic themes and present humans as having little control over their destinies. A major theme of Thomas Hardy’s tragic poems is the hopelessness, loneliness, and brutality of war. Thomas Hardy described himself as a poet, although his fame and financial success resulted primarily from writing novels. Dennis Taylor says Hardy’s career as a poet spanned over …show more content…
Thomas Hardy’s poems about modern war fall in two groups. John Riquelme identifies “War Poems” about the Boer War as the first group. These poems are found in the collection Poems of the Past and Present (211). Many of these poems give the same lonely and brutal impression of war. “Drummer Hodge” is a poem in this group. This poem is about a young soldier who dies in South Africa and is buried on foreign soil and left all alone. The poor soldier is just thrown in a grave without a coffin. The poem says, “They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest / Uncoffined – just as found” (1-2). The young soldier must have been lonely so far away from home. He does not even understand the language of the land (7-9). At the end, the poem says, “And strange-eyed constellations reign / His stars eternally” (17-18). The idea of a young boy dying a violent death all alone and far away from home shows Hardy’s pessimistic attitude toward war. Samaha 4
“The Souls of the Slain” is another Hardy poem that stresses loneliness and loss caused by war. Hardy often lets ghosts or spirits speak in his poems, and “The Souls of the Slain” is one of these, according to Vern B. Lentz (135). The poem brings out the theme of loneliness in the first stanza. The soldier in the poem says he is “Alone at the bill […] / And with darkness and silence the spirit [is] on me / To brood and be