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How to Read a Poem
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Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay
Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...
Form and Meter
Quatrains in RhymeThe poem is divided into five 4-line stanzas, called quatrains. Each quatrain has an ABAB rhyme pattern (look at the first quatrain: "stay" rhymes with "say," and "wings" rhymes w...
The speaker of "Afterwards" is an older man – someone who feels that his own death is near at hand. Makes sense – after all, Hardy wrote it when he was 77 years old. Hardy has a reputat...
The setting of the poem is difficult to pin down because it changes with every stanza, depending on where and when the speaker is imagining his death. All of the possible settings suggest the count...
Try reading the poem out loud. It's just a series of five questions, so how hard can it be? The answer: pretty hard. The lines are so long that it's easy to lose track of where you are, and each st...
What's Up With the Title?
"Afterwards" seems like a fairly easy title – it is, after all, only one word. But like most of Hardy's poetry, there's more to this deceptively simple title than meets the eye. The word "aft...
Depressing descriptions of birdsIf you're reading a poem with a lot of bird imagery that could be interpreted as a symbol for death, you've probably got your hands on a Hardy poem. One of his other...
(3) Base Camp There's a lot going on in this poem as far as poetic diction and figurative language, but once you get past the tough vocabulary words like "postern," it's a pretty accessible poem. Y...
Thomas Hardy wanted to be buried next to his wife in the churchyard of their hometown, but his executor had other ideas: he wanted to bury the famous writer in the "Poets' Corner" of Westminster Ca...
GThere's no sex in this poem. After all, it's about dying, and as a rule, it's best not to mix the two. It's not that Hardy had nothing to say about sex (just flip over to Tess of the D'Urbervilles...
Literature, Philosophy, and Mythology "rise again" (line 19): This could be a reference to the Christian belief in physical resurrection on Judgment Day.Historical References"postern" (line 1): Thi...
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