by Thomas Hardy
The Voice Summary
An unnamed speaker calls out to an unnamed "woman most missed." Or, in other words: a woman most definitely dead. He imagines that he hears her calling to him. More specifically, he imagines that she is saying that she no longer is the way that she used to be, after she had changed from the way that she originally was (when she and the speaker first got together) In short, he misses the woman of the distant past, who changed into a not-so-lovable person in the recent past. Confused? It's okay; this first stanza is a doozy. Check out our "Detailed Summary" for the play-by-play.
The speaker then asks if he really is hearing the voice of the woman. If so, he says, let me see you, woman! Let me see you standing where you used to stand back in the day, in your blue dress. Or, he asks, is he only hearing the wind traveling over the landscape? Is he only imagining a ghost who will never be heard again?
The poem ends as leaves fall all around the speaker. He hears the sound of the wind, and the sound of the woman calling. Is the woman a ghost? A zombie? Is she just in the speaker's mind? The poem raises these questions, but never answers them. (Thanks for making our job harder, poem. Gosh!)