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Moments of Vision and Miscellaneous Verses (English Edition)

Moments of Vision and Miscellaneous Verses (English Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Thomas Hardy

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This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 110 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 196 Seiten
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  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B004TPE8BY
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Great poems, but why not buy an anthology? 29. Januar 2010
Von Bill R. Moore - Veröffentlicht auf
Moments of Vision is yet another of the fine poetry collections Thomas Hardy put out, and it has some of his most famous and best work. It is primarily remembered and revered for the "Poems of War and Patriotism" section, which has some of the most notable World War I poems. These works are notable for variety and depth, showing several sides of the conflict. Like many Hardy poems, some are intensely personal, showing changing reactions to the horrible conflict and thus giving a supremely interesting contemporary account. However, for almost the only time in his long poetic career, he allowed himself to speak for others - indeed, for all of England, as well as for subgroups like soldiers, their families, etc. He was hardly the likeliest choice for such an ambitious undertaking but succeeds remarkably well. His views as reflected here are thus fairly typical, but another streak runs through the poems. Hardy had pacifist tendencies, and though he was convinced that England's participation, he was fully aware of war's inherently destructive inhumanity and the flimsy pretexts upon which WWI itself rested. All this comes out in various ways. As one would expect, the poems are never jingoistic; even a poem appealing to America for aid is judiciously balanced. Some even lean toward war protest. All told, there is a curious, at times near-contradictory approach to the war and all it stood for that remains interesting historically as well as poetically.

This book would be well worth buying even if there were no other poems, and Hardy would deserve a large poetic reputation for them alone. In fact, though, there is much more. As one might expect from an author in his 70s when the book came out, there are many notable reflections on past events - a noteworthy contrast to the WWI section. Hardy had already outlived many of the people close to him, and Moments of Vision has several notable memorials. A few are to his wife, already immortalized in his prior book's famous series of poems about her death and their life. These are on par with those great works, which is all that need be said. There are also moving tributes to two others who had died recently: his sister and his friend/fellow poet William Barnes. "To My Father's Violin" is a familial tribute of a somewhat different kind - one of Hardy's darkest poems and one of my favorites. Hardy also includes a far different tribute - one to William Shakespeare on the three hundredth anniversary of his death. Nearly all great English poets since Shakespeare's death have written poems to his memory, but this is one of the best as well as one of the most idiosyncratic.

Other poems look back on Hardy's long life in various ways. "Afternoon Service at Mellstock" is a very intriguing poem about the joys he felt in church as a youth. Having long lost his faith, his memories are fond but checked by cynical amusement at youthful naïveté - yet Hardy readily admits that skepticism has not made him happier. As this suggests, many of the poems are quite dark, as was Hardy's wont. There is a strong tendency to reduce Hardy to an unchanging pessimist, but anyone who reads this collection will quickly see that such pigeonholing sells him short. For instance, the optimistic poem "The Oxen," one of his most famous works, provides a nice contrast. Still other poems give contrasts of a different sort, mostly in the form of gallows humor satire. "He Fears His Good Fortune" is self-explanatory; we may smile or chuckle at it, but no one can deny the dark underlying truth. "The Statue of Liberty" is even more bitingly satirical; the twist ending may make us laugh aloud, but its black punch is undeniable. On a different note, Hardy's variety also extended to form, and this great collection has many examples of his diverse mastery. A case in point is "On Sturminster Foot-Bridge," a notable onomatopoeia exercise. Finally, the book ends with "Afterwards," essentially a self-written epitaph, which is quite moving though Hardy ended up living more than a decade longer.

Simply put, these poems are essential for anyone interested in Hardy's verse, and the curious, which should include anyone with even a passing interest in English poetry, should definitely check them out. However, we must remember that Hardy wrote poetry prolifically for more than sixty years and, unlike nearly all artists, was remarkably consistent, putting out great work even in his late 80s. A large omnibus is thus ideal, preferably a collected works, especially as great ones can be gotten for little more than the price of a single volume such as this. These poems are well worth reading, but only those for who for reason want Moments of Vision as a standalone should buy it in this form.
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