From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

Analysis: Speaker

Our speaker has a very active imagination. He uses elaborate turns of phrase and whimsical references to things like the seasons and feelings as if they're honest-to-goodness people. Which is lucky, actually, because he doesn't seem to be making all that many human friends.

Come to think of it, we don't know all that much about the speaker. Is he old? Young? Married? A pirate? We can't really say. (We're seriously hoping for the pirate, though. We just wanted to toss that in there.)

Why the deliberate anonymity? Especially when the first word of the poem is, um, "I"? Well, in a weird way, the absence of any definite characteristics makes it easy for the speaker's voice to become the Voice of the Century. Think about it: try reading the first line aloud. Who does the "I" seem to be now? Some random person? Or….you? In a tricky sidestepping of all detail, Hardy manages to create a speaker who could be anybody…or everybody. Feel drafted into a strange role? You should.

Just how seriously should we take our speaker, though? Well, we've talked a little about his credibility in the "Form and Meter" section of this module. We won't re-hash old news here, but the short version is that a case could be made that the poem's form might make us take our speaker's melancholy with a grain of salt. Then again, his worry about the turn of the century is what many people felt at the time (1899). The nineteenth century was teeming with anxiety. Hey, why shouldn't the twentieth be even worse?

That said, our speaker can appreciate happiness when he sees it. It's not like he's the bitter person who goes around quoting stupid sayings like, "Always the bridesmaid, never the bride." He might not be the star of tonight's show, but he's willing to let the thrush sing its little heart out in peace. And that's something.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...