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LESSON 14                THOMAS HARDY; WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS        Reading Assignment:  Norton Anthology, pages 1692-1711; 1859-1897. Writing Assignment: 1. Paraphrase "Hap." If a god should descend from the heavens and proclaim to me that he takes pleasure in my suffering and profits from my lost love, I would comply and die. At least I would be strengthened by the knowledge that I have an enemy. It would be easier to accept the pain and sorrow that I experience if I knew that a more powerful being had arranged for me to suffer. But this would not happen. Unfortunately, my hope that there is a reason for my sorrow is in vain. Chance and the dice of time determined my fate, and I am doomed to lead a painful life. 2. Write a brief character sketch of the speakers in "The Darkling Thrush," and "Channel Firing." What is Hardy's theme in each poem? How do the poems reflect the problems of the modern age? “The Darkling Thrush” is a poem about England. In the poem, the current age in England is represented by a horrible winter. The speaker describes his surroundings as morose and gloomy: he uses words with negative connotations, like “death lament” (12), “bleak” (18), and “desolate” (3). The theme of the poem is the deterioration of English society, and is most clear in lines 13-14: “The ancient pulse of germ and birth / Was shrunken hard and dry.” This implies that England, a country with a long history of great civilization, is whithering away. Hardy does express hope that it could again return to its greatness in lines 17-20: “At once a voice arose among / The bleak twigs overhead / Ina full-hearted evensong / Of joy illimited.” In these lines, a bird sings a song. The bird and it’s song symbolize hope for England, hope that “joy illimited” can again rise out of this winter.
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The speaker in “The Darkling Thrush” is a very negative person, as we can see from the word choice used in the poem. He sees the winter as a time of desolation, and feels frozen and dead inside. He describes himself in line 16 as “fervourless,” implying that he is worn out by the current situation. Thus, he is closed off to recognizing the hope that appears in the third stanza. Even though he know that the bird “Had chosen thus to fling his soul / Upon the growing gloom” (23-24), he finds little cause for celebrating. At the end of the poem, whereas the bird “knows” hope, the speaker was “unaware” (32). In his weariness and negativity, the speaker ignores hope. “Channel Firing” is a poem about war. In the poem, the sound of guns firing wakes up skeletons in their coffins. The skeletons and animals assume that it is Judgment day, but God allays their fears, explaining that it’s just another war. The poem’s theme is war’s destructive nature. Men are described as having a “readiness to avenge” (34) that causes war. This implies that war is essentially rooted in revenge, which is a sin. Throughout the poem, God laughingly
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This note was uploaded on 06/10/2010 for the course ENG 113 taught by Professor Clark during the Spring '04 term at University of Saskatchewan- Management Area.

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