by Thomas Hardy
The Voice Memory and the Past Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me,
Saying that now you are not as you were
When you had changed from the one who was all to me,
But as at first, when our day was fair. (1-4)
Whoa, hold on there, pardner. You're throwing a whole lot at us. If we break down these lines, we discover that the speaker imagines that his beloved has now changed back to the person she was when she was young, that (in death), she's no longer "changed." We get the feeling that there is some wish-fulfillment going on here—that the speaker really wishes that he could get his old (that is to say, young) wife back.
Can it be you that I hear? Let me view you, then,
Standing as when I drew near to the town
Where you would wait for me: yes, as I knew you then,
Even to the original air-blue gown! (5-8)
The speaker is all about nostalgia in these lines for the "fair" woman he used to love in that blue gown. What a perfect woman she was, waiting for him, all pretty and fancy.
You being ever dissolved to wan wistlessness,
Heard no more again far or near? (11-12)
Now the beloved woman in all of her forms seems to be disappearing—dissolving—into thin air. The speaker can't keep a hold of her forever. Even the question mark at the end of the line is a sad acknowledgement that she's not coming back. He already knows the answer to this question.