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Thomas Hardy On the Department Platform (1909)

DR CRISTINA PIVIDORI
2016

Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy was an English novelist, short story writer,
and poet of the naturalist movement. The bulk of his work,
set mainly in the semi-fictional land of Wessex, delineates
CHARACTERS
STRUGGLING
AGAINST
THEIR
PASSIONS AND CIRCUMSTANCES.
Hardys novels show the forces of nature outside and
inside individuals combining to shape human destiny.
Against a background of agricultural labour, with ancient
monuments such as old Roman amphitheatre reminding us
of the human past, he presents characters at the mercy of
their own passions or finding temporary salvation in the ageold rhythms of rural work or rural recreation.
20C Literature Dr Cristina Pividori 2016

The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th Edition | Copyright 2012 W.W. Norton & Company

Thomas Hardy
Men and women in Hardys fiction are not masters of their
fates; they are at the mercy of the indifferent forces that
manipulate their behaviour and their relations with others,
but they can achieve dignity through endurance, heroism, or
strength of character.
Some major novels by Thomas Hardy:
Far from the Madding Crowd (1874)
The Return of the Native (1878)
Jude the Obscure (1895)
20C Literature Dr Cristina Pividori 2016

The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th Edition | Copyright 2012 W.W. Norton & Company

Thomas Hardy: The Poet


Published in December 1909, Times Laughingstocks
contains 94 poems, almost a third of which had already
appeared in print
A short Preface seeks to prevent criticism of the
collections miscellaneity with the family warning that the
poems, including lyrics written in the first person, are to be
regarded , in the mains as dramatic monologues by different
characters.
Critical reaction was generally more favourable than it had
been to Hardys first two collections, partly no doubt because
the publication of The Dynasts had helped consolidate his
reputation as a poet in the eight years since Poems of the
Past and the Present
20C Literature Dr Cristina Pividori 2016

The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th Edition | Copyright 2012 W.W. Norton & Company

Thomas Hardy: The Poet


The collection draws heavily on poems written before he
began work on The Dynasts, including at least ten from the
1860s
The poems are grouped under subheadings. More Love
Lyrics contains 26 poems including On the Departure
Platform which falters only with the introduction of a
redundant interlocutor in the final stanza
A Set of Country Songs contains 18 poems and a final
miscellaneous category Pieces Occasional and Various
contains 35 poems.
20C Literature Dr Cristina Pividori 2016

The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th Edition | Copyright 2012 W.W. Norton & Company

Thomas Hardy: The Poet

THERE IS AN ELEGIAC AIR TO MANY OF THE POEMS,


PERHAPS NOT SURPRISINGLY FOR A POET ON THE
THRESHOLD OF THE EIGTH DECADE SEVERAL OF
WHOSE FRIENDS AND FAMILY HAD DIED IN RECENT
YEARS.

20C Literature Dr Cristina Pividori 2016

The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th Edition | Copyright 2012 W.W. Norton & Company

The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th Edition | Copyright 2012 W.W. Norton & Company

On the Departure Platform (1840-1928)


We kissed at the barrier; and passing through
She left me, and moment by moment got
Smaller and smaller, until to my view
She was but a spot;
A wee white spot of muslin fluff
That down the diminishing platform bore
Through hustling crowds of gentle and rough
To the carriage door.
Under the lamplights fitful glowers,
Behind dark groups from far and near,
Whose interests were apart from ours,
She would disappear,
20C Literature Dr Cristina Pividori 2016

The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th Edition | Copyright 2012 W.W. Norton & Company

On the Departure Platform (1840-1928)


Then show again, till I ceased to see
That flexible form, that nebulous white;
And she who was more than my life to me
Had vanished quite
We have penned new plans since that fair fond day,
And in season she will appear again Perhaps in the same soft array But never as then!
- And why, young man, must eternally fly
A joy youll repeat, if you love her well?
- O friend, nought happens twice thus; why,
I cannot tell!
20C Literature Dr Cristina Pividori 2016

The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th Edition | Copyright 2012 W.W. Norton & Company

On the Departure Platform (1840-1928)


Is it a conversation between strangers or a conversation
with himself (personal reverie of lyric)?
The speakers laments the moment of parting from his
love, a moment lost because it is EMOTIONALLY
UNIQUE AND UNREPEATABLE
A stranger interrupts his privacy, suddenly, and for one
question only.
The sense of an INTERRUPTED STRUCTURE is
underlined by the speech marks, which are used only for
the second voice, as if the first voice was solely
responsible for the poem until the surprise entry in the
sixth stanza.
Again the question, two lines by an INTERESTED
20C Literature Dr Cristina Pividori 2016
LISTENER (or is it an omniscient narrator?),

The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th Edition | Copyright 2012 W.W. Norton & Company

On the Departure Platform (1840-1928)


The question introduces a RETARDING
COMMONSENSICAL QUESTION : But why?
provoking reaffirmation
There is no elaborate incident here, only a
momentary intense and imaginative feeling
strengthened into GENERALIZATION and SAD
DISCLAIMER
Through conversation, the slight incident is made to
develop and the speaker goes beyond what he first
said, stimulated into ARTICULATING OR IMPLYING
THE INEFFABLE:
20C Literature Dr Cristina Pividori 2016

The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th Edition | Copyright 2012 W.W. Norton & Company

Florence Dugdale (1879-1937)

Florence first met Thomas Hardy in 1905 aged 26. She became his passionate friend
and helper, and eventually stopped teaching in 1908 - both to assist Hardy and begin her
writing career.
In 1912, Hardy's wife Emma died, and she moved into Max Gate in 1913. In 1914 they
married at St Andrew's Church, Enfield, despite the 39 year age difference.

The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th Edition | Copyright 2012 W.W. Norton & Company