by Thomas Hardy
The Voice Versions of Reality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me, (1)
When the poem begins, we're not sure whether the woman is dead, a ghost, or simply a voice in the speaker's head. We might begin to suspect that there's something odd about this scenario, though, because of the repetition of the "call to me." The speaker is sounding urgent and a wee bit desperate.
Can it be you that I hear? Let me view you, then, (4)
Now the speaker begins to doubt the woman's existence. He wants to see her, but—spoiler alert—she never appears. Sounds like the speaker is trying to use all of his senses to find out the truth about this woman. (Maybe he's been watching too much CSI!)
Or is it only the breeze, in its listlessness
Travelling across the wet mead to me here,
You being ever dissolved to wan wistlessness,
Heard no more again far or near? (9-12)
Okay, we are now in self-doubt central. The speaker is wondering if he's mixing up the sound of the woman's voice with the wind. The contrived rhymes of "listlessness" and "wistlessness" show the speaker's intense focus on sounds—both his own, and the sounds of the wind-or-voice. Everything is suddenly all about sound for the speaker. So, does it seem like this guy has a one-way ticket to the funny farm? What is the reality of his experience?