by Thomas Hardy
Stanza 2 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
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!
- In the last stanza, the speaker seemed pretty darn sure that the dead women was calling to him. But here, he's not so sure. He asks her: is that you? Am I really hearing your voice, dead lady? This line is filled with doubt.
- He doubts himself so much that he asks her to appear, so that he can "view" her.
- Then, he gets really specific. He wants her to stand where she used to stand and wait for him. He wants her to wear her old blue dress.
- Now things are getting creepier. When before, we just had a slightly dizzying dude hearing voices, now we've got a demanding dizzying dude conjuring ghosts in blue dresses.
- We can be pretty sure that the speaker here wants to see the woman of the distant past whom he loved, who was "all to [him]." He wants to see her as he "knew [her] then." He's not just longing for the past, but the very faraway past.
- And there's something very telling about the words he uses to describe the woman's dress. He calls it an "air-blue gown." What exactly does he mean by "air-blue"? Does he mean "sky blue"? Or, does he acknowledge the ghostliness of this desired dress by calling it "air-blue"?
- If we take a step back, we see that our speaker takes one more step over the edge here. Is there a real ghost in the poem? Do ghosts exist in this world? Or, is everything in the speaker's head? Is he able to create in language a voice that doesn't exist in real life? So many questions, so few answers. Let's read on..