Thomas Hardy: Texts and Contexts by Phillip Mallett (eds.)

By Phillip Mallett (eds.)

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Anticipating an easily ruffled readership for Late Lyrics and Earlier, Hardy explains that his mixing of genres of poems or his juxtaposition of different tones will appeal both to ‘stereotyped tastes’ and to ‘open intelligences’, despite the fact that he knows a mixing of modes does not appeal to the common reader, who can neither appreciate nor understand it. To reach this reader and some of his critics at all he has to go a step further, making some gesture toward fame and defending himself via self-definition and comparison, since he can not depend on a correct construction of him or his work.

Life and Work, p. 452. 10. Hardy’s emendations emphasise the unseen; the manuscript’s ‘fathomless’ becomes ‘visionless’. 3 ‘And I Was Unaware’: the Unknowing Omniscience of Hardy’s Narrators Linda Shires At the age of 82 and widely acknowledged as one of the great men of English letters, Thomas Hardy published his sixth volume of poems: Late Lyrics and Earlier (1922). 1 As in his Prefaces to Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, Hardy defends himself against charges of pessimism and other misreadings of his tone and substance.

These fundamental utterances from before the onset of language, like the ‘coo’ of the bird in ‘In the Museum’, comfort Hardy’s ear and mind. Breathing out (you cannot sound ‘oo’ without breathing out) sounds primordial affinities perhaps, or nursery pleasures. Hardy’s narrative position in his poems is often a posthumous one. Many of the poems trap the future: his people little know what is to come, but the poet does and, at his dourest, grinds that knowledge upon us, as for example ‘In a London Flat’.

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