Thomas Hardy Poem Interpretation

Poems for essay: Neutral Tones, A Broken Appointment, The Moth-Signal. Interpretation is said to be an explanation or conceptualization of a work of literature or other art form by a critic. Hardy is known for integrating personal events from his life, into his poems that allow the reader to develop a fully rounded view of what he was trying to convey in his work. Love and its effects are one of his most famous themes that are the basis of many of his poems. Hardy tends to use references to many of his loves in his life in his poems especially his first wife Emma.

The context from which he writes helps immensely when deducing the meaning of his works. However, knowledge of the poet’s background is not a necessity when interpreting all poems nor does it always influence the interpretation given by the reader; this only true to a certain extent. In the poems: “Neutral Tones”, “A Broken Appointment” and “The Moth- Signal (Edgon Heath)” are all examples of poems by Thomas Hardy that does not require awareness of his background to be interpreted by the reader.

The poem, “Neutral Tones” can be deciphered is about a man who loses his true love and thus skews his view of love forever. The first stanza may be interpreted as the setting of which this heartbreaking moment between these two lovers took place. The setting bares no identification needed towards the writer and can be easily interpreted by the reader. The proceeding stanzas basically describe the scenarios in the relationship that led to ultimately the couple going their separate ways and as a result changes the man’s perception of love as the event is relayed from his point of view.

This poem is just based on a love gone wrong and does not need Hardy’s background information to be successfully understood by anyone who reads it. His personal detached tone from the poem allows this to be possible. Along with “Neutral Tones”, “A Broken Appointment” follows the same trend of love and freedom to be interpreted without having knowledge of his past loves. This poem is about a man who is now reflecting later about the time he was stood up by the woman he loved. This is an issue that happens regularly and does not need to be referenced to sometime in the author’s life to be analyzed thoroughly.

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This poem was also written generally so it also bore no semblance to the life of Hardy. This goes to show that the background of an author when interpreting a poem is not utter importance. In addition, “The Moth-Signal (Edgon Heath)”, is another one of Hardy’s poems that lack the need for the context from which the poet writes. In this poem, there is an affair by a woman that is summoned to her lover via a moth being burned in the flames of a candle to indicate her lover was present.

Since infidelity is a common issue, the background of Hardy is not needed to influence the interpretation of this poem. In all of the above mention poems, they all encompassed a plot that was easily identifiable by any reader. The thread of love and heartbreak ran through each and they are all poems that are relatable to all who reads these poems. This gives proof that a poet’s background does not need to be known in order to interpret a poem nor influence its interpretation.

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