Do you agree that Hardy's Poetry is 'history that records less formally'?

Essay by suemaryUniversity, Bachelor's February 2005

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Do you agree that Hardy's poetry is 'history that

records less formally'?

Hardy himself stated that '..the mission of poetry is to record impressions, not convictions' . This mission would mean the communicating and recording of information of 'the tenor of the age' (Haslam & Turton) rather than recording specific facts; Hardy's poetry detailed how time was experienced or felt by those who lived through it. Eliot's phrase of 'un-historic acts' would seem to relate to this - the small things that everyday people go through, whilst in themselves not particularly note worthy, are in fact what create history. Without them there would be no eras for big events to fit into.

These impressions can be viewed through Hardy's poetry concerning war. In The Going of the Battery (57) we are given a subtitle of Wive's Lament, immediately informing us of who's emotions we are to share. Although written in 1899 (time of the Boer War), the emotion expressed applies to all war.

The 'light loving' of soldiers and the double risk women took in selecting them as partners is recorded as well as the sentiment that all the women could do was wait: '....Hold we to braver things,/ Wait we, in trust, what time's fullness can show'. It is the emotion of human consciousness that has been recorded instead of detailed facts of warfare. This is again true of The Man He Killed (236). It details the feelings of a soldier who has killed in conflict and is searching for a reason to justify his actions: 'I shot him dead because -/ Because he was my foe,'. The break implies he does not know the answer. The poem explores the reasons why men enlisted:

He thought he'd list, perhaps,

Off-hand like - just as I -

Was out of...