by Thomas Hardy
Nature and Renewal
For all the euphemisms and metaphors describing death in this poem, there are a lot of more upbeat images of nature, life, and renewal, too. Thank goodness, or this poem would be depressing as heck. As it is, the natural images balance out some of the more melancholy bits that we pointed out above.
- Line 2: The alliteration of "May month" and "glad green" draws attention to the natural images of spring in this stanza, creating almost a skipping rhythm in this line. The simile at the end of the line compares the "green leaves" to birds' "wings."
- Line 3, 5, 6, 14, 18: The poet sure likes making up compound words to describe beautiful images in nature, doesn't he? Why are there so many compound words here? It's as though common English words are inadequate to describe the beauty he wanted to convey, so he comes up with his own words to do the job. Words like "delicate-filmed" (3) and "full-starred" (14) don't seem quite so unusual, but "dewfall-hawk" (6)? That's not a real kind of hawk! But there are hawks that come out at dusk, or "dewfall." "Dewfall" also contains the word "fall" in it, which is appropriate, given the downward, sorrowful pull of this poem.
- Line 10: The cute little "hedgehog" of this stanza could be read as a stand-in for all of the things that the poet feels he hasn't been able to accomplish in his life. It's an "innocent creature" that he has tried to protect, but "he could do little for them."
- Line 19: This is probably the most hopeful line in the poem, with the words "rise again" and "new bell" suggesting the possibility of life after death and renewal.