My Oh My!

Narrative Poetry

The Poet: Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 and grew up in the region of Dorsetshire, England. He attended a local school until he was sixteen, when he was apprenticed to an architect in Dorchester. Between 1865 to 1867, Hardy wrote many poems but none of them were published. Convinced that novelist make a living, Hardy spent nearly 30 years writing novels before devoting himself to poetry. His 1st poem collection, The Wessex Poems, was not published until 1898 when he was 58 years old. In the following 30 years he wrote nearly a thousand poems. Hardy continued his writing until his death in 1928.

Analysis of “The Man He Killed”

In the poem “The Man He Killed”, we can see that the narrator was regretted for killing a man which might be his present drinking companion. This thus hinted the importance of place and placement towards his opposed soldier. In order to contrast the conflict between the two, Hardy presents the scene of them shooting each other “face to face”, as if in a mirror. The phase “I shot him as he at me”, yet the outcome is fatally opposite for the 2 soldiers. For the narrator, he is just performing his own duty without any ambition neither understanding. As we can see in his last stanza, we can see that this returned soldier was haunted by his enemy’s death, unwillingly to accept the truth of his act. The barbaric cruelty of war can be clearly reflected through this poem.

Poetic Style

The rhyme scheme of this poem is quite simple: the 1st line and 3rd line in each of the 5 stanza scheme so do the 2nd and the 4th lines. Most of the lines of the poem are written in trimeter but the 3rd line in every stanza is longer, which is written in tetrameter. Dramatic monologue used by Hardy is to speak in his poem without using his own voice.

Theme

The cruelty of war as it forced both man to shot down each other as enemies instead of being friends.

The Poet: Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was born in 1809 in Boston. His parents died before he was three years old and was raised by Frances Keeling Valentine Allan and her husband John Allan. In 1825, Poe entered the University of Virginia but was forced to leave after one semester due to the lack of financial support. In 1827, he left for Boston and enlisted himself in the army. During this period, he did some poetry writing, Tamerlane and other Collections. In 1836, he married his cousin, Virginia Clemm and later on achieved success on his poem “The Raven”. On October 7, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe passed away at the age of 40.

Analysis of “The Raven”

The poem “The Raven” is about an unnamed narrator who passes his time by reading a strange book of ancient knowledge as a way to forget the feeling of losing his love, Lenore. The narrator is being visited by the raven, a talking bird which only knows the word “Nevermore”. The raven is the metaphor that is known as the ‘devil bird’ which suggests the element of dark magic and believed to be a messenger that is being sent from the afterlife.  Being driven by the sadness of losing his love, the narrator lets his imagination to transform the bird as a messenger that brings news that the narrator will “Nevermore” be united to his love neither at heaven.

Theme

Alienation and loneliness is the main theme of the poem “The Raven”. We can see that the narrator is being brought out of his isolation by the raven and the only word that it speaks. The speaker actually fears that the raven might be a messenger from hell and knows the secrets of the afterlife that it does not want to disclose. Besides that, losing the love of his life, Lenore, the speaker prefers to remain lonely to release the pain that he felt. Throughout the poem, the memory of Lenore increases as the speaker loses his composure, that he needed concentration and control to stop thinking of her.

Poetic Style

The poem is comprised of eighteen stanzas of six lines each using a trochaic octameter which is made up of words that are stressed syllables and unstressed syllables. The rhyme scheme is not consistent.

Comparison between Thomas Hardy and Edgar Allan Poe

From the analysis above, we can know that even though both poets are from different centuries, yet their poems share the same theme of alienation of humankind. Hardy portrayed it through implementing war to distort the relationship whereas Poe used dark fantasy to animate alienation. Unlike Hardy, Poe loves to use 1st person narration to write his poems. Both personas in their poems are suffering of a certain circumstance: for Hardy’s persona is the regret of killing an enemy who may become a friend if they meet in a tavern instead of on the battlefield, for Poe’s persona will be agony of losing someone he love and fear of being alone. With this, we can state that both poets truly understand the feelings of an abandoned man with no choices.


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