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Themes

If you're all depressed from the death stuff in "Afterwards," don't worry; there are plenty of natural images that suggest life and renewal, to counteract all the doom and gloom. Hardy liked balance in his writing. Even when everything seems about as depressing as it can get, there's bound to be a ray of sunshine, somewhere. In "Afterwards," that ray of hope comes in the form of the speaker's relationship to the natural world. The series of unexpected, unusual natural images creates a web of interrelated ideas: the images of one stanza loosely connect with the images of other stanzas.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Hardy uses a lot of compound words, like "Delicate-filmed" (3), "dewfall-hawk" (6) and "wind-warped" (7) to describe natural images. Why does he resort to these largely made-up words to describe nature?
  2. Stanza 1 takes place in "May" (2), Stanza 4 takes place in winter (14), and the "warm" night of Stanza 3 suggests summer. Where's autumn, and how can you tell?
  3. Why does the speaker hope to be remembered as someone who is sensitive to nature, rather than as a writer?
  4. Are the neighbors able to appreciate nature in the same way that the speaker does? Why or why not, and how can you tell?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The speaker of "Afterwards" uses unexpected, unusual metaphors to describe natural images, frequently using invented words, in order to highlight his unusual sensitivity to such things.

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