Decomposition - Poem Essay

Thus, the presence of dying bodies or of corpses in Victorian poems is always numerically limited, linguistically camouflaged and textually contained.War is usually reported from a far-away territory, and this physical distance dulls its sounds and makes its wounds dimly discernible.Likewise, war itself taught the poets lessons as well: T. Eliot’s is commonly understood as reproducing the sounds and images of trench warfare and its aftermath.

Decomposition - Poem Essay-30Decomposition - Poem Essay-63

When approaching Hardy’s war poems, we at once notice a mingling of several contrasting voices which distinguishes them from the monochord approach typical of most war-poetry of the age.The object of this analysis is a section of eleven texts composed on the occasion of the Boer War of 1899-1901, and later included in Hardy’s second collection, Hardy is writing in the wake of the Victorian tradition, in which poets like Tennyson (and subsequently Kipling) treat the theme of death on the battlefield by using a wide range of metaphors and periphrases, while seldom actually treating it as a violent and brutalizing event.The approach of the Victorian poet, in general, is to keep a distance between language and object, and even when the poems are not in the least propagandistic, they still remain aloof from the matter-of-factness of fighting and dying in battle.As a matter of fact, from a historical point of view, after the Indian Mutiny of 1857 England underwent a process of profound transition from an essentially mercantilistic theory of imperialism, in which the colonies were represented as little more than factories or shopfronts, to an epistemology of Empire in which they were troped as England’s outlying counties.In 1859, the Parliament’s decision to relieve the East India Company of responsibility for the government of India along with the post-Mutiny determination to award Queen Victoria an ‘Oriental’ title, contributed to the reinvention of the Empire as the , defines it as “the selfsame bloody mode” (6) chosen by the nations to carry out their plans, and the soldiers are portrayed simultaneously “yellow as autumn leaves, alive as spring” (9).The of Hardy’s war poems: the first is the lack of dignity underlying life and death at war, which is remarkable in the choice of the anonymous pronoun ‘they’ and in the action of violently ‘throwing’ a bare body into the ground, as if to get rid of it quickly, with no care for its state of utter defencelessness against physical agents.This disturbing picture leads to the second level of the metaphor of death—that is, to the soldier’s dislocation from his homeland and the consequent alienation from the landscape that surrounds him.We can read some instances of this feeling of displacement in Kipling’s poems on the Boer War, in particular in “Bridge-Guard in the Karroo”, where dystopia is imaged as the onset of darkness: “And the darkness covers our faces,/ And the darkness re-enters our souls” (59-60), and more explicitly in “The Dykes”, where the nihilistic War has always been a violent, crude and brutalising event, but what might appear plain matter of fact to the contemporary artist and reader, was far from being acknowledged by intellectuals or accepted by the reading public in 1899.Therefore, I will try to analyse the ways in which Hardy turns an issue that was, aesthetically speaking, almost taboo, into a poetic object that expresses in explicit and realistic terms the “inexorable senseless tragedies” of war.The much debated issue of the political side the poet took—whether in favour of patriotism and imperialism, as a few texts such as “Men Who March Away” seem to show, or against military actions, as most of the poems seem to suggest—does not in the least impinge on the evidence that these lines deal with the reality of war and its disastrous consequences, rather than dwelling on a linguistic limbo of verbal irresponsibility, made of abstract feelings and political or philosophical ideals.Hardy’s own interspersed comments on this issue mark the distance between his stance and that of his contemporaries, but it is Edmund Gosse who points out the quality of realism which informs his poetics: “You are the only poet, up to date, who has said anything worth singing.

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  1. I see a reflection of myself in the divide at the 38th parallel because I see one part isolating itself in defense to outside threats, and another part coming out to face the world as one of the fastest- developing nations.

  2. I wrenched my pillow over my ears, telling myself it must be a trapped bird. Behind the fireplace, crammed up the chimney, were Victorian newspapers recording the house’s murder. My mother started behaving oddly – pensive, distracted. This is how she described it – not a ghost, but a dead child dressed in Victorian clothing, visible from the knees up.