Poem Analysis: Neutral Tones By Thomas Hardy

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Neutral Tones Analysis
The poem ‘Neutral Tones’ by Thomas Hardy is a dark, solemn poem, reflecting on the termination of a relationship that he had in the late 1860s. It has a very melancholic note and in the duration of the poem, he shows the sadness and emotions in the narrator. The poem was published in 1898, however at the bottom of the poem he marked it as being written in 1867, perhaps he did not want it to be published then, before he met Eliza Nickels. It has a rhyme pattern of ABBA as the first and last lines of the Verses rhyme, which could imply a sense of entrapment or not allowed to escape, perhaps reflecting on his relationship with his partner. It has an inconsistent rhythm perhaps showing the inconsistency of their relationship
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This line shows us that perhaps her smile wasn’t actually reflecting the happiness of her mood, but actually being quite sarcastic and forced. Hardy didn’t like her smile and thought it was one of the worst things about her, and it had to really have aggravated him, for him to describe it as being ‘the deadest thing’. It contains an oxymoron, as it is juxtaposing between a smile, which is a thing to be happy about and death, which is quite the opposite, it really adds to the ghostly theme of the poem “Alive enough to have the strength to die” Again Hardy continues to use an oxymoron. This also brings out the emotion from the reader, as it is actually showing a horrifying image of something that just has enough energy to die, without breaking "neutral tone". ‘And a grin of bitterness swept thereby’ this line refers to the resentment of spending their lives together. Swept means to sweep, and therefore could mean o get rid of or to clear, this probably means that once they have gotten rid of each other the smiles they used to share, turned into grins once they separated from each other. The last line of the third stanza says, "like an ominous bird a-wing", this refers to the way that the trust between the two has been shattered. The bird is referring leaving (flying away), and how the time when they were together flew by and now has no meaning to it, it was worthless and there is nothing else to say between

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